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Clint Dempsey and Abby Wambach earn U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards

Clint Dempsey and Abby Wambach earn U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards

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Dempsey is honored for the second time in his career and Wambach for the fifth time, while Brek Shea and Sydney Leroux get the Young Athlete awards.

U.S. Soccer named men's team forward Clint Dempsey as the 2011 Male Athlete of the Year and women's team forward Abby Wambach as the 2011 Female Athlete of the Year.

Midfielder Brek Shea and forward Sydney Leroux won the Young Male and Young Female Awards, respectively. A player can only win the Young Athlete award once in his or her career.

The U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award is the highest honor awarded to soccer players in the United States. 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.

"I'd like to thank the fans for voting me Athlete of the Year," said Dempsey. "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."

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.
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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.

"Thanks everybody for voting me U.S. Women's soccer Player of the Year," Wambach said. "It's always an honor. I can always say very safely that it's a team award, honestly. Germany was amazing. We, as a team, went over there and did some amazing things. Thanks again."

After missing several games early in the year because of nagging injuries, Wambach rebounded to have a year to remember. She 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.

Shea took home Young Male Athlete of the Year after having a breakout year on both the international and professional level. He was the first player born in the 1990s to earn a cap for the U.S. men's team, 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.

"This was a fun year for me - a lot of chances with the national team, FC Dallas and getting to train with Arsenal," said Shea. "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."

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

1984: Rick Davis
1985: Perry Van der Beck
1986: Paul Caligiuri
1987: Brent Goulet
1988: Peter Vermes
1989: Mike Windischmann
1990: Tab Ramos
1991: Hugo Perez
1992: Marcelo Balboa
1993: Thomas Dooley
1994: Marcelo Balboa
1995: Alexi Lalas
1996: Eric Wynalda
1997: Kasey Keller
1998: Cobi Jones
1999: Kasey Keller
2000: Chris Armas
2001: Earnie Stewart
2002: Brad Friedel
2003: Landon Donovan
2004: Landon Donovan
2005: Kasey Keller
2006: Oguchi Onyewu
2007: Clint Dempsey
2008: Tim Howard
2009: Landon Donovan
2010: Landon Donovan
2011: Clint Dempsey

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

1985: Sharon Remer
1986: April Heinrichs
1987: Carin Jennings
1988: Joy Biefeld
1989: April Heinrichs
1990: Michelle Akers
1991: Michelle Akers
1992: Carin Gabarra
1993: Kristine Lilly
1994: Mia Hamm
1995: Mia Hamm
1996: Mia Hamm
1997: Mia Hamm
1998: Mia Hamm
1999: Michelle Akers
2000: Tiffeny Milbrett
2001: Tiffeny Milbrett
2002: Shannon MacMillan
2003: Abby Wambach
2004: Abby Wambach
2005: Kristine Lilly
2006: Kristine Lilly
2007: Abby Wambach
2008: Carli Lloyd
2009: Hope Solo
2010: Abby Wambach
2011: Abby Wambach

YOUNG MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

1998: Josh Wolff
1999: Ben Olsen
2000: Landon Donovan
2001: DaMarcus Beasley
2002: Bobby Convey
2003: Freddy Adu
2004: Eddie Johnson
2005: Benny Feilhaber
2006: Jozy Altidore
2007: Michael Bradley
2008: Sacha Kljestan
2009: Luis Gil
2010: Gale Agbossoumonde
2011: Brek Shea

YOUNG FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

1998: Cindy Parlow
1999: Lorrie Fair
2000: Aly Wagner
2001: Aleisha Cramer
2002: Lindsay Tarpley
2003: Cat Reddick
2004: Heather O'Reilly
2005: Lori Chalupny
2006: Danesha Adams
2007: Lauren Cheney
2008: Kristie Mewis
2009: Tobin Heath
2010: Bianca Henninger
2011: Sydney Leroux

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