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Finalists Named for 2005 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Awards

Online Voting for Official U.S. Soccer Honors Begins Today at;
Voting for Four Prestigious U.S. Soccer Awards Runs Through Friday, Dec. 16

CHICAGO (November 23, 2005) – The finalists for each of the four prestigious U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards – Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female – have been announced today by the sport’s governing body in the United States.

With the announcement, voting for the high profile annual U.S. Soccer awards begins at, with fans having the opportunity to make their selections through a multimedia voter interface once a day through Friday, Dec. 16, 2005.
Online votes for the annual awards will be tallied and equivalent to 50 percent of the total votes. As in years past, the other 50 percent will be represented by 100 votes compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives (from National Team coaches to the National Board of Directors).

In addition to voting for the annual U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards, fans can also vote daily for the fourth annual series of “Best of U.S. Soccer” awards until the Dec. 16 deadline. The 2005 “Best of U.S. Soccer” awards will be decided entirely by online fan votes.

2005 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Awards
Male & Female

U.S. Soccer’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year awards are the oldest and most prestigious awards of their kind, dating back to 1984 for the Men and 1985 for the Women. The finalists for each award were nominated on the basis of: a) competing and excelling at the highest level (both at the National Team and professional level) during the calendar year; b) exhibiting decorum on and off the field which reflects well on U.S. Soccer; and c) contributing toward the growth, development, credibility and popularization of soccer in the USA.

The five finalists for the two top awards are listed below in alphabetical order:

U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year Candidates

DaMarcus Beasley, Midfielder
The high-flying midfield speedster had an outstanding year in the production department, posting career highs for both goals (4) and assists (4). A key figure in the USA’s World Cup qualifying campaign, Beasley scored what is the presumptive favorite for Goal of the Year.

Steve Cherundolo, Defender
2005 may well be the year that Steve Cherundolo finally staked his claim as the starting right back for the MNT. Combining consistency with composure, Cherundolo displayed poise on the ball and guile in his man-marking abilities as part of a U.S. defense that surrendered only 11 goals in 19 matches.

Landon Donovan, Midfielder
The USA’s engine in the attack, Donovan finished as the team leader in every statistical category that counts. The two-time defending Player of the Year proved a model of consistent productivity, registering a goal or an assist in eight of 12 games he started in 2005.

Kasey Keller, Goalkeeper
Keller was nothing short of giant in the goal for the U.S. in 2005, his calming leadership presence only equaled by his impressive collection of world-caliber saves. With a total of eight shutouts in 13 games, he led the U.S. on a shutout run of 639 minutes that spanned seven World Cup qualifiers.

Oguchi Onyewu, Defender
With the body of a linebacker and the heart of a lion, Onyewu enjoyed a coming out party in 2005 as a key member of the U.S. backline. Adding deft ball skills to an imposing presence, Onyewu is quickly picking up the intricacies of orchestrating a defense at the international level.

For detailed bios, click here.

U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Candidates

Shannon Boxx, Midfielder
The defensive midfielder played a key role in the USA’s streak of shutouts in 2005, expertly patrolling the space in front of the back four while serving as a key fulcrum in the U.S. attack. She is a world-class ball-winner in the midfield.

Kristine Lilly, Midfielder
The USA’s captain had another remarkably productive and consistent year as she pumped up her world-record cap total to 299. Lilly scored four times with two assists, including two goals in a huge 4-0 win against Denmark at the 2005 Algarve Cup that sent the USA to the championship game.

Kate Markgraf, Defender
In a year that saw the U.S. women not allow a single goal, Markgraf was the rock in the back, starting every game and playing every minute. With the retirement of legendary defender Joy Fawcett, Markgraf became the leader of the U.S. defense in 2005 and was a consistent force on the back line.

Hope Solo, Goalkeeper
In a breakout year for Solo, she started seven of the nine matches the U.S. played and earned shutouts in all, tripling her career shutout totals. She had a fantastic tournament at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, making several key saves to keep Finland scoreless.

Christie Welsh, Forward
The USA’s leading scorer in 2005, she tallied seven times in her nine matches, with one assist. Welsh was the leading scorer at the prestigious 2005 Algarve Cup in Portugal, scoring in all four matches including the game-winner in a dramatic 1-0 win over Germany in the championship game.

For detailed bios, click here.

Young Male & Young Female

U.S. Soccer created the Young Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards in 1998 to highlight up-and-coming stars within the U.S. Youth National Team system. In deciding the annual winners, candidates must have played in at least one Youth National Team match for the U.S., and previous winners are no longer eligible. The finalists are listed below in alphabetical order:

U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year Candidates

Benny Feilhaber, Midfielder
Coming into the youth national team picture just last December, Feilhaber, 20, has made one of the quickest jumps from being a relative unknown to receiving a call from Bruce Arena. Getting brought into the U-20s a month before qualifying, the former UCLA Bruin walk-on beat out some young professionals to start in the midfield and subsequently wowed with his dynamic play.

Eddie Gaven, Midfielder
A quiet, but effective, leader on the Under-20s, Gaven opened the door for the U.S. to enter their fifth straight FIFA World Youth Championship with hat-trick against Trinidad & Tobago in the team’s opening game of CONCACAF qualifying.

Kyle Nakazawa, Midfielder
An off-and-on starter with the Under-17s during his first year in U.S. Soccer’s U-17 Residency Program, Nakazawa came into his own in 2005 to win the attacking midfielder position and helped lead the team to a fifth place finish in the FIFA U-17 World Championship.

Ofori Sarkodie, Defender
The captain of the U-17s, Sarkodie was the rock to a constantly changing defense. The central defender started all 31 games he played in and due to injuries had a multitude of different teammates to his left and right over the course of the year.

Quentin Westberg, Goalkeeper
Being born in France and playing professionally in his home country means Westberg doesn’t get mentioned around the water cooler too often here in the U.S., but the impact he had with the Under-20s this past year can’t be ignored. He was the first-choice ‘keeper for the U-20s.

For detailed bios, click here.

U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year Candidates

Lori Chalupny, Defender
With just two starts for the full Women’s National Team coming into this year, the 21-year-old Chalupny started six games in 2005, including all four at the prestigious Algarve Cup, where she played left back for the first time in her soccer career. 
Lauren Cheney, Forward
The 18-year-old Cheney saw time with the U.S. U-20, U-21 and full Women’s National Teams in 2005. A powerful forward, she was the youngest member of the USA’s 2005 Nordic Cup Team, playing in all four matches in Sweden while starting two. 
Carli Lloyd, Midfielder
The dynamic midfielder got her first two senior caps in 2005, playing against Iceland and Mexico. Lloyd played the entire second half of the USA’s final game of 2005 against the Mexicans, coming close to her first goal on several occasions.

Amy Rodriguez, Forward
After a meteoric rise in under a year from the U.S. U-17s, to the U-19s to the U-21s to the full National Team, the explosive forward earned her first two senior caps in 2005, playing against Finland and Denmark at the 2005 Algarve Cup.

Jill Oakes, Defender
The rock-solid Oakes, who was a key part of the USA’s 2002 U-19 World Championship-winning team, earned her first senior cap at the 2005 Algarve Cup against Denmark, playing defensive midfield and almost scoring a header on one of her first touches of the game.

For detailed bios, click here.

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