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U.S. Soccer

Keller, Lilly are over 30 and named best players of 2005.

CHICAGO (Thursday, December 22, 2005) -- Kasey Keller and Kristine Lilly struck a blow for the over-30 set when they were honored today as the best United States soccer players for 2005.

Keller, 36, became the first player to be named United States "Male Athlete of the Year" three times when the goalkeeper received that tribute today. He previously won the award in 1997 and 1999.

Kristine Lilly, 34, a midfielder whose 299 international appearances is a record for women and men, was named 2005 "Female Athlete of the Year."

Benny Feilhaber, a midfielder with the U.S. under-20 men, was named American "Young Male of the Year." University of North Carolina and U.S. women's midfielder\defender Lori Chalupny was selected as "Young Female of the Year,"

Keller was previously named the best U.S. men's player in 1997 and 1999. Defender Marcelo Balboa and attacker Landon Donovan are the only other American men to take the honor twice.

"Kasey is well deserving of this honor. He had an outstanding year and continues to demonstrate why he is such a valuable part of our team," U.S. manager Bruce Arena said on the USSF web site. "His leadership and ability to make saves at key moments in a game were a large factor in our success during the (World Cup) qualifying campaign. The fact that he is the only three-time winner of the award is a testament to the consistency, commitment and dedication he has displayed throughout his career."

Keller came up huge for the U.S. again and again in 2005, helping the Americans win the CONCACAF final round of World Cup qualifying. With eight clean sheets in 13 games, he led the U.S. on a shutout run of 639 minutes that spanned seven World Cup qualifiers. He had a 9-2-3 record and 0.56 goals-against average for the year.

Keller recorded five shutouts in seven 2005 qualifiers, adding another record to a resume that already includes all-time American bests for victories (50), shutouts (44), and World Cup qualifying appearances (31).

Lilly also was named the best U.S. woman in 1993. No women's player had gone a longer period of time before repeating receiving the award. Striker Michelle Akers took the honor in 1991 and 1999.

In the 12 years between awards, Lilly appeared in 235 matches for the U.S. and scored 85 goals during a period in which the Americans won the Women's World Cup once and Olympic gold medals twice.

"Of course it's an honor and it's always nice when people appreciate your contribution to the game and to the U.S. national team," Lilly said on the web site. "I know I won this award 12 years ago and I'm not sure what I think about that. We had quite a few players who played well this year; including some younger ones who I am sure will be leading us to future World Cup and Olympic success."

Lilly started eight of the nine U.S. women's games in 2005, producing four goals and three assists. She raised her career goal total to 110, fifth in the international record books. Lilly had two goals in 4-0 triumph over Denmark that sent the U.S. to the 2005 Algarve Cup title match and then the championship.

"Kristine Lilly made an extremely positive impact on the field in 2005 and she had an outstanding Algarve Cup Tournament last March," U.S. coach Greg Ryan said on the web site. "Her experience helped settle our young team which won the championship over an outstanding and veteran German team. I attribute much of our success in that tournament to Kristine's play."

Feilhaber, 20, whose first year with the U.S. under-20 men was 2005, was not heavily recruited out of Northwood High School in Irvine, Calif., and joined UCLA as a walk-on. Born in Brazil, Feilhaber played two collegiate seasons with the Bruins, scoring seven goals and adding four assists.

His performance in the 2005 FIFA World Youth (Under-20) Championship drew interest from several professional clubs in Europe and he signed a reported three-year contract in August with Hamburg, which is currently second in the German Bundesliga.

Chalupny, 21, who has been a midfielder for most of her career, started six games at left back for the U.S. women in 2005. She was a standout for the U.S. under-21 women in the 2005 Nordic Cup title run. She had 30 goals and 32 assists for 92 points in four years at UNC.

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