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Donovan named U.S. Player of the Year


LOS ANGELES-- Landon Donovan was named the winner of the 2002 Honda Player of the Year Award during a gala luncheon today in Los Angeles.

Donovan, 20, became the youngest winner ever of the most prestigious honor in U.S. professional soccer following a nationwide vote of American sports journalists. He will now have his name added to the coveted Honda Player of the Year trophy and will receive a new Honda Accord EX V-6 Sedan. Additionally, $5,000 will be donated to the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) on Donovan's behalf by the American Honda Motor Company, Inc.

"It is great honor to be named the Honda Player of the Year," said Donovan. "This year the U.S. team had an outstanding year, reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup, and to win this award when there are so many players who had great years really means a lot to me."

In all Donovan received 497 points in the voting by a record of 277 sports journalists. Brad Friedel, a first-time finalist who traveled with his wife from England to Los Angeles in order to participate in the ceremony, finished second overall with 382 points. Five-time finalist Claudio Reyna, who won the 2000 Honda Player of the Year Award and finished second in 1997, 1999 and 2001, finished third this year with 274 points. Reyna participated in the ceremony live from England. Each first-place vote was worth three points, a second-place vote was worth two points and a third-place vote one point.

Donovan scored two goals in the 2002 FIFA World Cup and six overall this year for the United States. He was named "Man of the Match" in the United States' victory over Mexico in the Round of 16 after scoring the second U.S. goal in that game. His first game with the national team came almost two years ago in a match against Mexico. By scoring in that game, Donovan became only the sixth U.S. player ever to score in his first match with the national team.

Donovan originally signed with German club Bayer Leverkusen in February 1999 and later that year was the MVP of the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. He currently plays for Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes and helped lead them to the 2001 MLS championship in his first season with the team.

Created in 1991 by Futbol de Primera and sponsored by American Honda Motor Company, Inc., the Honda Player of the Year Award is given annually to the best player on the U.S. national team as chosen by the media. To become eligible for the award, a player must play in at least three international matches for the national team during the year.

The previous winners of the Honda Player of the Year Award are: Earnie Stewart (2001), Claudio Reyna (2000), Kasey Keller (1999), Cobi Jones (1998), Eddie Pope (1997), Eric Wynalda (1996, 1992), Alexi Lalas (1995), Marcelo Balboa (1994), Thomas Dooley (1993) and Hugo Perez (1991). Eric Wynalda, who previously was the youngest winner of the Honda Player of the Year Award at age 23 in 1992, was honored as the Honda Player of the Decade in 2000.

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