Rave Report: Dempsey highlights start of award season

Rave Report: Dempsey highlights start of award season

Dempsey up for US Soccer's Male Athlete of the Year, three Academy alums earn Pac-12 honors and the preseason schedule starts to take form.

The two-time defending U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year is a finalist yet again.

Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey is among five finalists for the annual award given by U.S. Soccer, along with forward Jozy Altidore, defender DaMarcus Beasley, midfielder Michael Bradley and goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Dempsey is a three-time winner of the award, taking home the honors in 2007, 2011 and 2012. This year, he was named captain by Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann and responded by matching his career high with six goals, and adding two assists in 10 matches. Among his highlights on the international scene were a pair of goals in a 4-3 win over Germany in a friendly in June and an assist on Landon Donovan’s goal against Mexico to clinch a berth in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He finished with three goals in eight Hexagonal Round matches in World Cup qualifying, giving him 36 goals in 101 career caps and tying him with Donovan for the all-time lead with 13 goals in qualifying.

In August, he made the move to Seattle from Tottenham Hotspur, where he played one season after scoring 50 goals in six seasons with Fulham from 2006-2012. His signing with Sounders FC marked his return to MLS where he broke into the professional ranks with the New England Revolution from 2004-2006, reaching the MLS Cup final in 2005 and 2006.

Altidore had a standout year in 2013, scoring eight goals in 14 matches, giving him 21 goals in 66 career caps at just 24 years old. Beasley started a team-high 17 matches, making a smooth transition from the midfield to the left back role to surpass 100 caps, now toting 114 career appearances. Bradley was a pivotal player as the fulcrum in the midfield all year, starting 10 matches to give him 81 career caps. Howard started 12 matches to give him 96 career starts and put him second on the all-time list behind former Sounder Kasey Keller. He also trails just Keller with 34 career shutouts, including five this year.

Online voting for the award is underway at http://www.ussoccer.com/about/history/awards/athlete-of-the-year.aspx.

PRESEASON TAKING FORM

Last year, Sounders FC won the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Arizona, as part of its preseason schedule. This year, Seattle will return to Tucson for preseason training, but won’t play in the annual tournament, opting instead to play in the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, South Carolina. Seattle is scheduled to play a friendly against the Portland Timbers on February 8 in Tucson and has three matches on the schedule in Charleston from February 22-March 1.

The trip to Charleston will be a return for three Sounders, as Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle and Alex Caskey all had stints with the Charleston Battery.

“I got the opportunity to prove myself with Charleston. They gave me the opportunity to play professionally in the second division,” said Alonso, who led the Battery to the 2008 U.S. Open Cup final. “I’m very happy to go back. It’s been five years and I’m happy to see my old friends, my old teammates and my old coach. I’m very thankful to go back to Charleston to see all the people who gave me a hand when I needed. I had a chance to show myself to MLS and to the world.”

For tickets and scheduling in Arizona, visit http://fctucson.com/team/full-mls-preseason-and-2014-fc-tucson-desert-diamond-cup-schedule/, and in South Carolina at http://charlestonbattery.com/news/tickets-on-sale-for-carolina-challenge-cup-monday-november-11/.

ACADEMY ALUMS EARN ALL PAC-12 HONORS

The Pac-12 Conference announced its All-Conference teams on Tuesday and three Sounders FC Academy products found their names among those honored.

University of Washington forward Darwin Jones and Stanford University forward Jordan Morris both earned First-Team recognition while Stanford’s Aaron Kovar is Honorable Mention.

Jones, a junior, has six goals and four assists in his first season for the Huskies, helping them to the Pac-12 title and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They will open the tournament in the second round on Sunday against the winner of the first-round meeting between Seattle University and Creighton.

Morris, a freshman, has six goals and seven assists while the sophomore Kovar has two goals and five assists for the Cardinal. Stanford hosts Loyola Marymount in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

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