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Tim Howard wins U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year

The goalkeeper rode his incredible World Cup to the highest honor in American soccer.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Howard has been named U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year. The goalkeeper also won the award in 2008, making him just the fifth player to be named Men's Athlete of the Year twice.

U.S. Soccer named six nominees for the award. Howard was the clear favorite, but he was joined by Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, Fabian Johnson and Kyle Beckerman on the shortlist.

Howard won the award on the strength of an incredible World Cup. He was the Americans' best player in Brazil and capped it off with an amazing performance against Belgium in the Round of 16. Howard set a World Cup record with 15 saves in the match. The goalkeeper almost single-handedly kept the team in that match and the U.S. nearly won it at the end of regulation, but they eventually fell in extra time.

The U.S. got much more than just that one match from Howard, though. He was the leader of a defense that was a revolving door of characters. Jurgen Klinsmann repeatedly changed his central defenders, and even his fullbacks on occasion, leaving Howard as the one constant to organize everyone as best he could. Howard also showed improved ball skills, which was important for a U.S. team that tried to build from the back when they could, and that was all combined with his always-terrific shot stopping ability.

In addition to his outstanding play for the Americans, Howard also helped Everton to fifth place in the Premier League. It was the Toffees' best finish in nearly a decade, and Howard did his part with one of the finest seasons of his career.

Jozy Altidore won the award last year and Dempsey won it in back-to-back years before that. Landon Donovan has won it a record four times, the last two coming in 2009 and 2010.

U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year, as well as Young Male and Female Athletes of the Year, will be announced next month.