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December 21, 2009
Donovan U.S. Soccer's male athlete of the year; Solo earns female award

Landon Donovan, who earned yet another award as the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the year, has enjoyed the best season of his career.
Landon Donovan, who earned yet another award as the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the year, has enjoyed the best season of his career.
Linda Cuttone/Sports vue Images
CHICAGO---In a result that should not surprise anyone, U.S. and Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan was named the U.S. Soccer's male athlete of the year Monday.

It was yet another honor racked up by Donovan, who seemingly earns awards by the bucket these days. Among the major awards Donovan has earned are the Honda player of the year and MLS MVP. Donovan, who negotiated a four-year contract extension last week, will be on loan with Everton FC in the English Premier League from January through March 15.

Also honored by U.S. Soccer were National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo as the female athlete of the year.

Under-17 Men's National Team midfielder Luis Gil and WNT and U-23 Women's National Team midfielder Tobin Heath. took home the young male and young female awards, respectively. The U.S. Soccer athlete of the tear awards are the highest honors given to soccer players in the United States.

Donovan, who won back-to-back awards in 2003 and 2004, is tied the USA's all-time leading scorer with former international goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who won the award in 1997, 1999 and 2005. Solo became the first goalkeeper to win Female Athlete of the Year.

As in years past, online votes registered at counted for 50 percent of the total votes, while the other 50 percent was represented by votes compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives, including National Team coaches and the members of the U.S. Soccer board of directors. A player can only win the young athlete award once in their career.

Voters handed Donovan his third award after he enjoyed one of the most impressive years in U.S. soccer history. A former Young Male Athlete of the Year in 2000, the 27-year-old Donovan played a large part in the Americans' qualification for the 2010 World Cup, scoring three goals and providing nine assists in the final CONCACAF round. The forward was involved in 12 of the USA's 19 Final Round goals as the team advanced to its sixth consecutive World Cup finals.

He took his career qualifying appearances to 35, surpassing Keller, Claudio Reyna and Eddie Pope for first all-time and also moved into first on the all-time qualifying goal chart. Donovan's 12 goals gave him two more than former Men's National Team forward Brian McBride. He also played a vital role in the U.S.'s run to the FIFA Confederations Cup final in June, playing 90 minutes in all five games while recording two goals and one assist. His goal in the final against Brazil was recently voted by the fans as the Best Goal during the 2009 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards.

At the club level Donovan excelled with the revitalized L.A. Galaxy. He earned MLS MVP honors for the first time in his career and helped the Galaxy win the Western Conference championship en route to a trip to MLS Cup in Seattle.

“It’s a great accomplishment and a great award,” Donovan said. “I’m very proud of it and knowing that the fans vote on it, your teammates vote on it, and your colleagues vote on it is very special to me.”

“It was a great year for me individually, it was a great year for the L.A. Galaxy and the turnaround we had, and an incredible year for our national team with the Confederations Cup and how we did in qualifying. We look forward to next year. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Solo played at a world class level for both club and country as she solidified her status as one of the best female goalkeepers in the world. She was named MVP of the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March after a sparkling performance against Sweden in the championship game.

Her inspirational play for St. Louis Athletica was invaluable in leading the club to a second-place regular-season finish. She also earned the WPS Goalkeeper of the Year, finishing second in the WPS in both saves and shutouts. In a down year for the U.S. WNT game schedule due to the WPS, Solo played in just six matches, but allowed only one goal and consistently made key saves when called upon.

“It’s a huge honor but also a really nice surprise to be voted the female athlete of the year for U.S. Soccer,” Solo said. “I especially want to thank everyone for voting for a goalkeeper, as well as our goalkeeper coach Paul Rogers for helping me think about the position in a more sophisticated way, both technically and tactically.”

“Certainly, I also want to share any accolades with our defense, from the backs all the way up to the forwards, as well as Pia and our coaches who have put together a great team of people and players as we keep moving forward in a positive direction to the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.”

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