Hamm takes Chevrolet award fifth year in row; Jones is menís winner.ORLANDO, Fla. (January 18, 1999) -- Cobi Jones, a flank attacker for the United States national team and the Los Angeles Galaxy, and Mia Hamm, a striker for the U.S. womenís national team were named yesterday the 1998 recipients of the Chevrolet\U.S. Soccer male and female Athlete of the Year awards.
For Hamm, 26, it was the fifth straight year she captured the honor.
The annual awards, which are based on excelling at the highest level of soccer offered by U.S. Soccer for the calendar year.
Jones, 28, earned the award for his consistency at the international and domestic level. Jones' 15 games played and 14 games started were a team highs for the U.S. and helped raise his all-time cap total to 111. That total enabled him to become the youngest player in the sports world history to reach the 100-cap plateau.
Domestically, Jones had a breakout year in Major League Soccer, helping the Galaxy establish several Major League Soccer offensive records while setting a few of his own. As the catalyst in the Los Angeles offense, he helped the Galaxy break MLS marks for best regular-season record (24-8), regular season points (61) and goals scored (71). Jones himself contributed 19 goals and 13 assists, placing him second in the league in scoring (51 points) and making him one of three finalists for the league's MLS Most Valuable Player award.
The three-time MLS All-Star also became the all-time league leader in three-goal games (4) and Player of the Week selections (7).
"At the beginning of the year, I told some people privately that I was going to add leadership to my approach not only with the Galaxy, but with the national team as well," Jones said. "Except for a little bit of a bitter taste in the way it all ended (the Galaxy losing in a two-game sweep to eventual champion Chicago Fire in the Western Conference final and the U.S. finishing 32d and last in the World Cup), I was generally pleased with how the year turned out. You still have to look at the positives."
The awards, accolades and broken records keep on coming for Hamm. In September, she became only the third player in international soccer history to score more than 100 goals and finished with 20 goals and 20 assists in 1998, making it her most prolific year ever.
Her 101 career goals are most for the U.S. women and she needs eight to wrest the world record from the retired Elisabetta Vignotto, an Italian who scored 108. Her 100th goal came on September 18 in Rochester, N.Y., in front of a sold out crowd of 14,000 at Frontier Field.
"It was a fantastic night, certainly one that I will remember forever," Hamm said. "The crowd was great and it was a lot of fun, but it was even better because I could share it with my teammates. I wouldn't have scored any goals without them and it's a credit to this team that we can have moments like that."
On top of all her individual efforts, she helped the U.S. establish the best single season record of 22-1-2 for the U.S. women.
"This year's award could have gone to a number of her teammates," said U.S. women's coach Tony DiCicco said, citing striker Kristine Lilly and defender\midfielder Joy Fawcett as examples. "But the simple fact of the matter is Mia just got better in 1998. She had the greatest year of any women's player in the history of the game."
Criteria for the Chevrolet / U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award is broken into three categories: (1) competing at an exceptional national team level during the previous calendar year; (2) exhibiting decorum on and off the field which reflects well on U.S. Soccer; and (3) contributing toward the growth, development and popularization of soccer in the United States. Voting for the award was representative of the United States Soccer Federationís general secretariat, including department heads from within the Federation's headquarters, as well as current U.S. national team head coaches and the chairman of the national teams committee.
In December, Chicago Fire and U.S. under-23 menís forward Josh Wolff and Cindy Parlow, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina and a U.S. women's forward Cindy Parlow were recognized as the first ever Chevrolet / U.S.Soccer youth players of the year.
1984 -- Rick Davis
1985 -- Sharon Remer