Los Angeles Soccer: Bianca Henninger
Galaxy captain Landon Donovan and Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach, as expected, are U.S Soccer's Athletes of the Year, the federation's top honor for players.
Donovan (Redlands/Redlands East Valley HS), an MLS Best XI selection who was the pivotal figure in the U.S.'s run to the World Cup round of 16, becomes the first four-time winner of the men's award. He previously was honored in 2003, 2004 and 2009.
He's also the frontrunner for the Honda Player of the Year award, the most prestigious American soccer honor, which syndicated Spanish-language radio network Futbol de Primera will announce early next year. Donovan has won the award six times, including the past three years.
Wambach, a Washington Freedom striker who scored 16 goals in 18 games for the U.S. women's national team this year -- with a tournament-best eight in CONCACAF's qualifiers for next year's Women's World Cup -- is a four-time winner of U.S. Soccer's women's award. She won in 2003, 2004 and 2007.
Portugal-based defender Gale Agbossoumonde, who made his full international debut in November, and Santa Clara University goalkeeper Bianca Henninger, who was in the nets for the U.S. at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, captured U.S. Soccer's Youth Athlete of the Year awards.
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