- Landon Donovan Wins Male Athlete of the Year for Record Fourth Time
- Abby Wambach Takes Home Female Athlete of the Year Award for the Fourth Time
- Gale Agbossoumonde and Bianca Henninger Claim Young Athletes of the Year Awards
CHICAGO (Dec. 20, 2010) — For their excellence at the highest levels of the sport, U.S. Soccer named U.S. Men’s National Team forward Landon Donovan as the 2010 Male Athlete of the Year and U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach as the 2010 Female Athlete of the Year. Under-20 MNT defender Gale Agbossoumonde and U-20 WNT goalkeeper Bianca Henninger won the Young Male and Young Female Awards, respectively. The U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award is the highest honor awarded to soccer players in the United States.
The Male Athlete of the Year honor is the fourth for Donovan, who previously won back-to-back awards in 2003 and 2004. This year’s award makes Donovan a back-to-back winner for the second time after also taking home the top honor in 2009. Donovan is the only player in U.S. Soccer history to win the award four times, passing former Men's National Team goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who won the award in 1997, 1999 and 2005. Wambach won the award for the fourth time in her career, with previous wins in 2003, 2004 and 2007. With four Athlete of the Year awards, Wambach now trails only Mia Hamm, who won the award five times (1994-98) during her illustrious career.
The U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards have a longer history than any major award in American soccer – more than 20 years. They join the FIFA Players of the Year as the only two awards to honor both the top male and the top female in the sport.
Online votes registered at ussoccer.com 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.
Landon Donovan captured his fourth Male Athlete of the Year Award after the midfielder helped catapult the U.S. MNT to the knockout round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The 28-year-old, a former Young Male Athlete of the Year in 2000, played a large part in the USA's successful 2010 FIFA World Cup. Donovan’s tournament-saving goal in added time against Algeria instantly became one of the iconic sports moments of this century in the United States.
“I want to thank everyone who chose me for this honor,” said Donovan. “I am very proud to have been part of this team and how we represented ourselves this year. For me, the lasting memories from South Africa this summer will be as much about the amazing support we received from fans across the country as our team’s performance. It certainly meant a lot to all of us.”
With his penalty conversion against Ghana, Donovan added two more records to his career on the U.S. MNT by scoring his fifth World Cup goal in his 12th World Cup game. Donovan also finished as the team’s leader in goals for the fifth time in his career and the overall leader in points for the seventh time.
The Los Angeles Galaxy captain finished the Major League Soccer regular season as the league leader in assists with 16 in 24 games, adding seven goals for the 2010 Supporters Shield winners.
Wambach, the winner of the 2010 Female Athlete of the Year award, scored in double figures in a calendar year for the fifth time, and fourth time in the past five years, pounding in 16 goals in 18 games for the USA. The WNT forward also scored in nine of the USA's games in 2010 upping her career total to 117 goals, good for third in U.S. history behind Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly and fifth all-time in world history. She had six multiple goal games in 2010, including her sixth career hat trick, and led the USA in scoring during CONCACAF qualifying with a tournament-best eight goals.
Wambach had an excellent Women's Professional Soccer season as well, starting all 22 regular season games while scoring 13 goals with eight assists, good for second and tied for second in the league, respectively. She was named to the WPS Best XI and captained one of the squads in the WPS All-Star Game.
"Thank you to the fans who all voted,” said Wambach. “I've always been the kind of person who doesn't really focus on individual achievements or awards but, having had the injury and major surgery, it feels good to know I can come back and still play well enough to win those personal accolades. For me though, I'd rather give back every award I've ever won for a World Cup championship."
Henninger, the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. at the 2010 U-20 Women’s World Cup, took home the 2010 Young Female Athlete of the Year Award. Henninger played every minute in Germany and allowed just two goals, both on unstoppable shots from distance. She was a standout player in all four matches, making several big saves throughout the tournament and was awarded the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper in the tournament. She started 12 international matches for the USA in 2010, compiling a record of 9-0-1 while allowing just three goals.
Henninger started 20 games for the Santa Clara Broncos as a junior this past fall, allowing just 12 goals while compiling a record of 12-5-2 with eight shutouts. She was named First-Team All-West Coast Conference while helping the Broncos into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She was among the conference leaders in save percentage, goals against average and shutouts.
“First I want to thank everyone for voting for a goalkeeper,” said Henninger. “Sometimes we get attention for the wrong reasons, but I’m really excited that I had the opportunity to play in a youth Women’s World Cup and I hope to continue to get the chance to play for my country in the future. It’s definitely an award for the back four that played in Germany and for everyone on the team. I was just trying to do my part and make the plays when I was called upon.”
Agbossoumonde was awarded the Young Male Athlete of the Year Award for his exceptional play throughout 2010. The youngest member of the U.S. team at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt, Agbossoumonde is now by far the most experienced player in the new cycle. With 25 career caps at the U-20 level, the strong yet calm defender earned his first call to the Men’s National Team during its trip to South Africa in mid-November and became the second player to come out of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy to earn a cap by playing the final four minutes of the 1-0 win.
Agbossoumonde’s first goal under Thomas Rongen was the game-winner in the championship match of the Milk Cup in July, a tournament during which he wore the captain’s armband for the U.S. side. The center back has appeared in eight of the team’s 10 international games. A product of both U.S. Under-17 Residency and IMG Academy, Agbossoumonde has emerged as a force at the youth international level.