CHICAGO (Friday, November 7, 2003) — U.S. Soccer has announced the finalists for the fourth and final set of its 11 year-end awards that honor the standout performances of the calendar year in American soccer and make up the second annual “Best of U.S. Soccer” Series.
With the help of U.S. National Team coaches Bruce Arena and April Heinrichs, U.S. Soccer has selected the finalists for these second-year awards. Now it’s up to fans to make their voice heard with a vote in one or all of these unique categories over the next month at ussoccer.com, where they’ll have a chance to win a variety of special prizes from Philips Electronics. Online voting for the awards will begin on Monday (Nov. 10) and continue through Tuesday, Dec. 9.
The Best U.S. Goal (Youth National Team) award goes to the best goal scored by a youth national team player in 2003, recognizing the technical ability of individual or team performance while giving special consideration to the competition in which the goal occurred. The list of finalists includes three improbable, but dazzling efforts from Under-17 MNT sensation Freddy Adu, two of which came in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in August, and one near impossible goal, courtesy of an 85-yard bomb by Under-23 MNT midfielder David Testo that came in a 3-1 win over Mexico in Guadalajara and was featured in SportsCenter’s “Plays of the Day” and “Plays of the Week.”
The Best U.S. Goal (Full National Team) award rewards the best strike from a full Men’s or Women’s National Team player in 2003. The list of finalists includes a trio of wicked volleys, one from U.S. MNT midfielder Earnie Stewart in the Gold Cup and a pair from U.S. WNT midfielder Kristine Lilly, both from important 3-1 wins from the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003.
As the voting for 2003 “Best of U.S. Soccer” awards series concludes, U.S. Soccer will announce the seven suggested candidates for each of the four annual Chevy Athlete of the Year awards: Young Female, Young Male, Female and Male.
As the oldest and most prestigious award of their kind, U.S. Soccer’s Chevy Athlete of the Year awards date back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women, with the winners of the two major awards receiving vehicles from Chevrolet. For the fourth straight year, fan votes (along with a media vote) will decide the winner. Online voting will begin at ussoccer.com in December and run through early January.
BEST U.S. GOAL – YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM
This award goes to the best goal scored by a U.S. YOUTH National Team player in an international match played this year. But aside from being a spectacular goal from the technical angle, the importance of the match in which it was scored weighed heavily on the six finalists, which are listed in chronological order by the game in which they occurred:
- After coming off the bench in the 89th minute, midfielder David Testo puts the nail in Mexico's coffin by scoring perhaps the most unlikely goal you'll ever see. With Mexico attacking with their 'keeper drawn up, Testo collects a teammate's clearance at the top of the area and turns to unleash an 85-yard chip that bounces twice and rolls slowly toward the goal, only to knick the post in trickle into the back of an empty net in the waning seconds of stoppage time -- U.S. U-23 MNT 3, Mexico 1 – May 14
- Defender Steve Curfman settles a clearance from a Polish defender, then uncorks a 40-yard shot that swerves into the upper-right hand corner to start a rout of Poland. -- U.S. U-17 MNT 5, Poland 0 – June 4
- Forward Freddy Adu receives a throw-in on the right flank, escapes a pair of defenders with back-to-back 360-degree turns, then slashes into the box and beats four more onrushing defenders and the 'keeper to slot it inside the right post. -- U.S. U-17 MNT 5, Poland 0 – June 4
- Midfielder Lindsay Huie roofs a blistering shot from 12 yards out from a tight angle after Leslie Osbourne frees her behind the defense along the right touchline -- U.S. U-21 WNT 3, Iceland 0 – July 23
- Freddy Adu settles a header from Danny Szetela just past midfield, quickly drawing three South Korean players, but he spins out of danger, bursts past the two remaining defenders and cuts around the 'keeper to score into an open net to provide the game's equalizer before going on to notch two more goals in a convincing win in the team's FIFA U-17 WC opener -- U.S. U-17 MNT 6, South Korea 1 – August 14
- Freddy Adu provides a clinical finish after a long goal kick up field bounces once and then is flicked into his path by forward Jamie Watson. Adu beats two defenders to the ball, touches it down with his right thigh, and cuts sharply to his left around the Sierra Leone 'keeper to easily tap in the game-winning goal in 89th minute. -- U.S. U-17 MNT 2, Sierra Leone 1 – August 17
BEST U.S. GOAL – FULL NATIONAL TEAM
This award goes to the best goal scored by a FULL U.S. National Team player in an international match played this year. But aside from being a spectacular goal from the technical angle, the importance of the match in which it was scored weighed heavily on the six finalists, which are listed in chronological order by the game in which they occurred:
- Donovan receives a ball from John O'Brien at midfield, quickly turns and chips the ball over a sliding defender, and darts off on a 40-yard breakaway that ends with him slotting the ball past the Venezuela keeper as five defenders scamper back. -- U.S. MNT 2, Venezuela 0 – March 29
- Shannon MacMillan provides a cheeky finish to a great series of passes that starts with Cat Reddick serving a ball to midfield, where Aly Wagner heads it into the path of MacMillan, who lets it bounce once and strikes a perfect chip over the Canadian 'keeper from 40 yards out. -- U.S. WNT 6, Canada 1 – April 26
- Earnie Stewart provided a stunning volley to knot the CONCACAF Gold Cup Third Place Match at 2-2, taking a Greg Vanney cross from the left flank and launching it past the Costa Rican 'keeper from 12 yards out. -- U.S. MNT 3, Costa Rica 2 – July 26
- Bobby Convey delivers a dramatic game-winning goal at the CONCACAF Gold Cup Third Place match by outracing two Costa Rican defenders to a great through ball from Landon Donovan and slipping a low left-footed shot past the keeper an inside the near post. -- U.S. MNT 3, Costa Rica 2 – July 26
- Kristine Lilly makes no mistake in powering a 20-yard rocket past the Swedish 'keeper to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead in their WWC opener. Abby Wambach frees herself on the right flank, dribbles into the box and plays a square ball to Mia Hamm by the penalty spot, where Hamm drops it back through the legs of a Swedish defender to Lilly, who runs on and blasts it home. -- U.S. WNT 3, Sweden 1 – September 21
- Lilly rips another wicked volley to give the U.S. another important 1-0 lead, this time in the Third Place Match of the WWC. After the ball is knocked around the Canada penalty box, a poor clearance falls at the feet of Lilly just outside the box, where she bends a knuckleball into the upper right corner past the helpless 'keeper. -- U.S. WNT 3, Canada 1 – October 11