Dempsey, Shea take home top US Soccer honors for 2011
Clint Dempsey and Brek Shea’s each added another honor to what was a banner 2011 for both on Friday, as US Soccer named Dempsey the 2011 Male Athlete of the Year and Shea won Young Male of the Year.
Dempsey has now won the men’s award, the top honor given out by US Soccer, twice (2007 and 2011), becoming the fourth player to win multiple times along with Landon Donovan (2003, 2004, 2009, 2010), Kasey Keller (1997, 1999, 2005) and Marcelo Balboa (1992, 1994).
The Fulham and former MLS forward led the US in scoring during the 2011 Gold Cup with three goals (24 all-time for the US), and is now the highest scoring American in Premier League history after passing Brian McBride’s record of 36 strikes.
"I'd like to thank the fans for voting me Athlete of the Year," Dempsey said in a statement. "It always feels good to be recognized for doing a good job at something you love to do. I'd like to thank my teammates and coaching staff for all their hard work, and hopefully we can have a better 2012."
Shea was an easy choice for Young Male following a season in which he came into his own for both club and country. He scored 11 goals and was named to the 2011 MLS Best XI while remaining in the MVP conversation for most of the season. He also became the first player born in the 1990s to appear for the USMNT and accumulated eight full international caps in 2011.
"This was a fun year for me – a lot of chances with the national team, FC Dallas and getting to train with Arsenal," Shea said in a statement. "Hopefully in 2012, I get a chance to go to the Olympics and be a part of World Cup qualifying. I'm honored to be part of this award. A lot of great players have won it."
On the women’s side of the award pool, World Cup hero Abby Wambach won the 2011 Female Athlete of the Year, while U-23 forward Sydney Leroux took home Young Female of the Year.
Wambach has won the award five times, including the 2010 edition, matching Mia Hamm for most all time. She scored the USWNT’s final four goals in the 2011 Women’s World Cup and now has 13 career goals in the competition. Leroux was honored for her efforts with the US U-20 and U-23 teams, and is the all-time leading scorer for the U-20 side with 30 goals in 36 games.