Los Angeles Soccer: Amy LePeilbet
UCLA's Sydney Leroux gets her second stint with the U.S. women's national team when it begins preparations for next summer's Women's World Cup with a six-day training camp at Home Depot Center.
Leroux, who was in camp with the U.S. before two October friendlies but has not yet made a full international appearance, and defender Whitney Engen (Rolling Hills Estates/Peninsula HS) are among seven uncapped players on coach Pia Sundhage's 26-player roster for the Jan. 8-13 session.
Other with local ties on the roster: midfielder Lindsey Tarpley (Hermosa Beach), and forwards Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita Catholic HS and USC), Alex Morgan (Diamond Bar/Diamond Bar HS) and Lauren Cheney (UCLA).
Redondo Beach's Shannon Boxx (South Torrance HS), Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach and fellow veterans Rachel Buehler, Amy LePeilbet, Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone, Carli Lloyd and Heather O'Reilly have been excused from the camp, but they will join 15 players from the camp on the U.S. roster for the semi-annual Four Nations event in China. The team departs on Jan. 14.
U.S. Soccer unveiled its Athlete of the Year finalists Wednesday, with a healthy number of local players up for awards -- and Galaxy captain Landon Donovan looking like a shoo-in for the top honor.
Online votes count for 50 percent of the balloting, with media and U.S. Soccer coaches and directors accounting for the other half. To vote, go here. (You'll need a free U.S. Soccer account to participate.)
MALE ATHLETE: Donovan, a three-time winner (2003, 2004 and 2009), has to be the frontrunner. He was the best American player at the World Cup (Michael Bradley, too, was outstanding), was revelatory during a loan spell at Everton and was an MVP candidate in Major League Soccer.
Clint Dempsey won the honor in 2007.
F/M Landon Donovan (Redlands/Redlands East Valley HS), L.A. Galaxy
D Carlos Bocanegra (Alta Loma/Alta Loma HS and UCLA), Saint-Etienne (France)
M Michael Bradley (Manhattan Beach), Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
D Steve Cherundolo (San Diego), Hannover 96 (Germany)
F/M Clint Dempsey (Nacogdoches, Texas), Fulham (England)
FEMALE ATHLETE: A fairly open race, although Abby Wambach's performance at CONCACAF's Women's World Cup qualifying tournament might have sealed her fourth award.
M Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach/South Torrance HS), unaffiliated
D Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), unaffiliated
D Amy LePeilbet (Crystal Lake, Ill.), Boston Breakers
F Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita Catholic HS and USC), Philadelphia Independence
F Abby Wambach (Hermosa Beach), Washington Freedom
YOUNG MALE ATHLETE: A couple of very good U17s to consider -- Alessandro Mion and Andrew Souders -- but how do you pass up on Togo-born Gale Agboussoumonde, who plays in Portugal and made his full U.S. national team debut last week?
D Gale Agbossoumonde (Syracuse, N.Y.), Estoril (Portugal)
G Zac MacMath (St. Petersburg, Fla.), University of Maryland
D Alessandro Mion (Miami), Miami FC Kendall
M Dillon Powers (Plano, Texas), University of Notre Dame
D Andrew Souders (Amherst, Ohio), Columbus Crew Academy
YOUNG FEMALE ATHLETE: The big question: Where's Alex Morgan (Diamond Bar/Diamond Bar HS), the only college player (Cal) seeing regular time for the U.S. national team? She'd get our vote, but we're also high, of course, on Stanford's Christen Press. And on U.S. U-17 standout Morgan Brian, whom we had the pleasure of discovering at the U.S. Soccer U-14 identification camp a few years ago at Cal Poly Pomona.
M Morgan Brian (St. Simons Island, Ga.), Ponte Verde Storm
D Crystal Dunn (Rockville Cente, N.Y.), University of North Carolina
G Bianca Henninger (Los Gatos, Calif.), Santa Clara University
F Sydney Leroux (Vancouver, British Columbia/Phoenix), UCLA
F Christen Press (Palos Verdes Estates/Chadwick School), Stanford University