Jozy Altidore, Abby Wambach named U.S. Soccer Athletes of the Year

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One player set a record for most consecutive games with a goal. The other became the all-time leading scorer in women’s international soccer history. On Wednesday, Jozy Altidore and Abby Wambach were rewarded for their standout 2013 campaigns with their teams’ highest honors, named Male and Female Athlete of the Year by U.S. Soccer.

For Wambach, it is the sixth time she has claimed the honor, having now won the award in three of the last four years. In 2013, the Western New York Flash star ran her international scoring record to 160 goals, passing five-time winner Mia Hamm’s FIFA record of 158 goals.

With the award, Wambach also passed Hamm to become the U.S.’s only six-time Athlete of the Year winner. From her Q&A with U.S. Soccer:

“Of course I’ve never really been competing against Mia. The kind of legacy she left behind is one that makes the people who came after want to strive to better the team and the program; those are the kind of values she wanted to teach. Hopefully, I can pass that on to the others who come behind me as well.”

Altidore, winning his honor for the first time, posted a career high eight goals for the U.S. in 2013, setting a team record by scoring in five consecutive matches between June 2 and Aug. 14. Having helped AK Alkmaar to the Dutch Cup in Holland, Altidore’s play earned the 24-year-old a move to the Premier League when he signed with Sunderland.

From his Q&A with U.S. Soccer:

“It’s a huge honor. I’m really excited. It’s nice to know people thought I had that much of an influence on the National Team.”

“I just tried to keep a routine and keep it when I was with the National Team which is difficult because it’s a whole different environment with different needs. I tried as much as possible to replicate what was working for me. Fortunately it worked out that it was a really successful year for me and the team.”

The federation also handed out awards to their youth athletes of the year, with Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lindsey Horan winning the male and female awards.

And for the second time, U.S. Soccer also honored a Disabled Athlete of the Year, with paralympic national team member Rene Renteria winning the award.

Here are the former winners of each honor, as distributed by U.S. Soccer:

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
1984: Rick Davis
1985: Perry Van der Beck
1986: Paul Caligiuri
1987: Brent Goulet
1988: Peter Vermes
1989: Mike Windischmann
1990: Tab Ramos
1991: Hugo Perez
1992: Marcelo Balboa
1993: Thomas Dooley
1994: Marcelo Balboa
1995: Alexi Lalas
1996: Eric Wynalda
1997: Kasey Keller
1998: Cobi Jones
1999: Kasey Keller
2000: Chris Armas
2001: Earnie Stewart
2002: Brad Friedel
2003: Landon Donovan
2004: Landon Donovan
2005: Kasey Keller
2006: Oguchi Onyewu
2007: Clint Dempsey
2008: Tim Howard
2009: Landon Donovan
2010: Landon Donovan
2011: Clint Dempsey
2012: Clint Dempsey
2013: Jozy Altidore

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
1985: Sharon Remer
1986: April Heinrichs
1987: Carin Jennings
1988: Joy Biefeld
1989: April Heinrichs
1990: Michelle Akers
1991: Michelle Akers
1992: Carin Gabarra
1993: Kristine Lilly
1994: Mia Hamm
1995: Mia Hamm
1996: Mia Hamm
1997: Mia Hamm
1998: Mia Hamm
1999: Michelle Akers
2000: Tiffeny Milbrett
2001: Tiffeny Milbrett
2002: Shannon MacMillan
2003: Abby Wambach
2004: Abby Wambach
2005: Kristine Lilly
2006: Kristine Lilly
2007: Abby Wambach
2008: Carli Lloyd
2009: Hope Solo
2010: Abby Wambach
2011: Abby Wambach
2012: Alex Morgan
2013: Abby Wambach

YOUNG MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
1998: Josh Wolff
1999: Ben Olsen
2000: Landon Donovan
2001: DaMarcus Beasley
2002: Bobby Convey
2003: Freddy Adu
2004: Eddie Johnson
2005: Benny Feilhaber
2006: Jozy Altidore
2007: Michael Bradley
2008: Sacha Kljestan
2009: Luis Gil
2010: Gale Agbossoumonde
2011: Brek Shea
2012: Rubio Rubin
2013: Wil Trapp

YOUNG FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
1998: Cindy Parlow
1999: Lorrie Fair
2000: Aly Wagner
2001: Aleisha Cramer
2002: Lindsay Tarpley
2003: Cat Reddick
2004: Heather O’Reilly
2005: Lori Chalupny
2006: Danesha Adams
2007: Lauren Cheney
2008: Kristie Mewis
2009: Tobin Heath
2010: Bianca Henninger
2011: Sydney Leroux
2012: Julie Johnston
2013: Lindsey Horan

DISABLED ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
2012: Felicia Schroeder
2013: Rene Renteria

Europa League: Arsenal, Marseille host semifinal 1st legs

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Arsenal’s Champions League dreams could be in for a rude awakening against tournament-tested Atletico Madrid.

The Premier League vs. La Liga match-up is one of two Europa League semifinal first legs set to be served up Sunday, with Marseille and Red Bull Salzburg meeting in the other.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

There’s something romantic about Arsene Wenger closing out his time at Arsenal against French opposition in Lyon, but Atleti and Salzburg won’t step aside for poetics.

Both matches kickoff ay 3:05 p.m. ET

Arsenal vs. Atletico Madrid

It’s a bit stunning that this tie has no history considering both club’s statures in their leagues and Europe, but that’s what we’ll se when Arsenal welcomes Atleti for the first leg.

Arsenal boasts two of the top 10 performers in the UEL this season — it would be three had the Gunners not sold Theo Walcott — and are paced by Aaron Ramsey, who has four goals and an assist. Mesut Ozil, who’s ready to return to the pitch, has the reverse with a goal and four helpers.

The Gunners have outscored UEL opposition 29-10 this season.

It’s no surprise that Antoine Griezmann has been Atleti’s best attacker since the Madrid side dropped out of the UCL to run rampant through the UEL knockout rounds. Atleti beat Copenhagen 5-1, Lokomotiv Moscow 8-1, and Sporting Lisbon 2-1 for an aggregate score line of 15-3.

Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg

Don’t expect this to be a simple case of Ligue 1 bossing inferior opposition: This pair met in the group stage, with the Austrian side winning at home and drawing 0-0 in France.

Salzburg has shown its mettle in various ways during the UEL. After allowing just one goal in an unbeaten group stage, they’ve won 4-3 over Real Sociedad, 2-1 against Borussia Dortmund, and 6-5 versus Lazio. That’s no easy road, and Marseille represents another big challenge.

Marseille is bidding to make its first European final since 2004, and has been led by Dimitri Payet‘s three goals and four assists, and Lucas Ocampos’ four goals and one assist. Marseille has knocked off RB Leipzig, Athletic Bilbao, and Braga after the group stage.

Names you’ll need to know from Salzburg: defenders Stefan Lainer and Paulo Miranda have been spectacular, and Munas Dabbur and Valon Berisha have each scored five times in the tournament.

Mourinho on longtime nemesis Wenger: ‘We can be friends in future’

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Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger have had a poor relationship, but the former thinks he’s soon to get along with the latter.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

Manchester United boss Mourinho, 55, heaped praise on the departing Arsenal manager ahead of the two sides’ Sunday meeting at Old Trafford (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), saying the Frenchman has earned much respect.

Branding Wenger “iconic,” Mourinho says his fiery rivalry with Wenger stemmed from Arsenal’s stature in the Premier League when the Portuguese took over Chelsea.

“If he respects me even 50 percent of what I respect him we can even be friends in the future,” Mourinho told Sky Sports News. “I have lots of respect for him. But the reality is that he was at Arsenal, he was the champion and I came to the country in 2004 and wanted to steal his title. That’s football.”

Mourinho said he’s tried to show his respect for Wenger, 68, over the past few seasons. It may become a passable relationship, but we find it hard to believe the pair will be dining together on a regular basis as the sun sets on their managerial careers (Mou has a while to go, we think).

Real’s Modric on Bayern feeling unlucky: “That’s their problem”

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Bayern Munich produced far more chances than visiting Real Madrid in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg in Germany, but lost 2-1 at the Allianz Arena.

Franck Ribery butchered an open shot at goal, Robert Lewandowski beat Keylor Navas but didn’t score late, and Thomas Mueller missed getting contact on a shot inside the six.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

It was that kind of day, and Mueller is baffled that his team did not finish more than Joshua Kimmich’s opener.

“Everybody is wondering why this game is 1-2 for Madrid,” Mueller reportedly said. “We still cannot believe it.”

The quote comes from BeIN Sport’s Tancredi Palmeri, who has a stinging rebuke from Real Madrid maestro Luka Modric.

Real wasn’t great on Wednesday, but also limited their big mistakes to one: Marcelo’s lapse of judgment which helped Kimmich to open the scoring for Bayern Munich.

The hosts had a huge giveaway from Rafinha on the match-winner, and backup backstop Sven Ulreich didn’t have a phenomenal day on either goal. Throw in Arjen Robben’s injury requiring an 8th minute substitution, and Bayern did not have much good fortune on the day.

This one, though, doesn’t seem over, even with the tie moving to the Bernabeu.

McKennie, Adams, Miazga in top tier of US Soccer player pool

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CHESTER, Pa. (AP) Midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams have played their way onto the top tier of the U.S. player pool along with defender Matt Miazga, according to interim coach Dave Sarachan, who says the trio would receive strong consideration for a World Cup roster if the Americans were headed to Russia in June.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

With the U.S. rebuilding following its failure to qualify for the tournament, Sarachan will continue to rely on youth for upcoming exhibitions against Bolivia, Ireland and France.

Veterans such as Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley could have a role either in friendlies this autumn or when competitive matches resume in the summer of 2019.

“I do think those guys, some of them, will factor in, in terms of the Gold Cup, in terms of the next round of qualifying,” Sarachan said Wednesday. “I think it would be important to bring some of those veterans guys back.”

Dempsey, who turned 35 last month, is tied with Landon Donovan for the U.S. record of 57 international goals.

“The older guys, they’re valuable in the succession of everything, to mentor, to show these young guys what it really takes and what it is to be a part of the national team,” Sarachan said. “But as far as that goes, you know, sometimes a tie is all right, right? Share the spoils.”

Christian Pulisic, the Americans’ 19-year-old star midfielder, will be on the roster for the May 28 match against Bolivia in the Philadelphia suburbs. Pulisic, who is from Hershey, Pennsylvania, has not played for the national team since the 2-1 loss at Trinidad and Tobago in October that eliminated the U.S. from World Cup contention.

While U.S. training starts May 21, Pulisic will report late so he can remain with Borussia Dortmund for a postseason exhibition at LAFC on May 22.

“He was pretty gutted after that game,” Sarachan said of the loss in Trinidad. “There’s a lot of demands of a guy like Christian. He’s being pulled in a lot of different directions. There’s still some speculation – this didn’t come from him directly – but I know that there’s some speculation that maybe he’ll move from Dortmund. So I know there’s a lot going on. And I’m trying to be helpful in the process to allow him a little wiggle room in terms of the national team now.”

Josh Sargent, the 18-year-old forward who joined Werder Bremen this year, also will be on the roster. The U.S. plays at Ireland on June 2 and at France on June 9, and Sarachan said many Europe-based players may skip the Bolivia match.

Sarachan was the top assistant to Bruce Arena, who quit after the U.S. failed to qualify. Sarachan would like to be considered for the job going forward, but new U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro plans to first hire a general manager for the men’s national team, a new position.

“I would only be guessing at this point if it’s someone in place before or after the World Cup,” Sarachan said of the GM.

The 63-year-old Sarachan coached Cornell from 1988-97 and the Chicago Fire from 2002-07. He does not consider himself to be an interim coach.

“I don’t like that term personally. I hate using the word interim,” he said. “I’m the men’s national soccer coach until they tell me I’m not. I’m not naive to think that I’m a slam-dunk candidate or not. I try not to even think through that other than at some point I have to figure out my next move if it’s not going to be this.”

Since World Cup elimination, the U.S. has played a road draw at Portugal and home ties against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Paraguay. Sarachan has given national team debuts to nine players, including Adams, McKennie, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, forward Andrija Novakovich and midfielder Tim Weah – son of former FIFA Player of the Year and current Liberia President George Weah.

“I feel since November, when you could arguably say it was rock bottom in terms of U.S. soccer and the perception of it, I’d like to think that there’s a little more hope, a little more hope with the program, the direction we’re going, with the exciting young talent that’s emerging,” he said. “And that makes me feel proud, because I think the work kind of speaks for itself at this point, meaning young guys are getting great minutes.”