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January 20, 2012
Dempsey, Wambach, Leroux, Shea top players

Cllint Dempsey has been named the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year for the second time in his career.
Cllint Dempsey has been named the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year for the second time in his career.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CHICAGO -Clint Dempsey has been named U.S. Soccer's 2011 Male Athlete of the Year and U.S. Women's National Team forward Abby Wambach as the 2011 Female Athlete of the Year. U.S. MNT midfielder Brek Shea and U.S. WNT and U-23 WNT forward Sydney Leroux won the Young Male and Young Female Awards, respectively.

The Male Athlete of the Year honor is the second for Dempsey, who previously won the award in 2007. Dempsey becomes the fourth men's player to earn the honor at least two times, with Landon Donovan (2003, 2004, 2009, 2010), Kasey Keller (1997, 1999, 2005) and Marcelo Balboa (1992, 1994) also garnering the award on multiple occasions.

Dempsey led U.S. scorers in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup with three goals, including strikes in the quarterfinal against Jamaica and the game-winner in the semifinal against Panama. Dempsey has scored 24 career goals for the U.S. MNT, and he has proven equally lethal offensively for Fulham, setting a club record for career goals in the Premier League. Dempsey is now the highest-scoring American in Premier League history, passing Brian McBride's 36 goals in early December.

The Female Athlete of the Year accolade is the fifth for Wambach and her second straight after winning in 2010. Wambach matches Mia Hamm for earning the award five times, as Hamm garnered Female Athlete of the Year from 1994-98.

After missing several games early in the year because of nagging injuries, Wambach rebounded to have a year to remember. Wambach tallied a goal in the final four games of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup and kept alive her streak of leading the USA in scoring in every world championship in which she has competed. She scored in the final group match against Sweden and scored the latest (122nd minute) and most dramatic goal in Women's World Cup history against Brazil in the dying moments of overtime to send the game to penalty kicks. Wambach's four goals in Germany gave her 13 in the Women's World Cup for her career, moving her past the legendary Michelle Akers into first on the all-time list.

Shea took home Young Male Athlete of the Year after having a breakout year on both the international and professional level. Shea was the first player born in the 1990s to earn a cap for the U.S. MNT, earning eight caps in 2011 as one of three players to feature in all of Jurgen Klinsmann's games as head coach. With FC Dallas, Shea scored 11 goals in 31 games and was named to the 2011 MLS Best XI.

Leroux secured Young Female Athlete of the Year, playing for the U.S. WNT and U.S. U-23 WNT in 2011. She is the USA's all-time leading scorer in U-20 Women's World Cup play with 10 goals. She is among the most capped U-20 WNT players ever with 36 games and is the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. at that level with a whopping 30 goals. Leroux is coming off her senior year at UCLA where she scored 16 goals en route to a 16-1-4 record. She was the top selection by the Atlanta Beat in the 2012 Women's Professional Soccer Draft on Jan. 13.

The U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award 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 members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors. A player can only win the Young Athlete award once in his or her career.

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