Solo Named U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of Year

Dec. 22, 2009

SEATTLE - For her excellence at the highest levels of the sport, U.S. Soccer named former Washington standout and current U.S. Women's National Team (WNT) goalkeeper Hope Solo as the 2009 Female Athlete of the Year.

U.S. Men's National Team (MNT) forward Landon Donovan was named the 2009 Male Athlete of the Year and Under-17 MNT midfielder Luis Gil and WNT and U-23 WNT midfielder Tobin Heath 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.

Solo played at a world-class level for both club and country in 2009 as she solidified her status as one of the best female goalkeepers in the world. She was named MVP of the prestigious 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 finish in the regular season. 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. National Team 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,' said Solo. '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.'

The Male Athlete of the Year honor is the third for Donovan, who previously won back-to-back awards in 2003 and 2004. The 2009 prize ties the USA's all-time leading scorer with former Men's National Team goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who won the award in 1997, 1999 and 2005. Solo became the first goalkeeper to win Female Athlete of the Year.

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.

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.

To watch a video thank for you from Solo, click here.

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