October 29, 1997 in Sports

Hamm Collects Fourth Award; National Goalie Also Honored

Compiled From Wire Services

National team goalkeeper Kasey Keller and women’s national team striker Mia Hamm, a key member in the United States’ drive to last year’s Olympic title, were selected as the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Athletes of the Year on Tuesday.

It is the fourth straight year Hamm won the award, twice as many as any other recipient. She has 17 goals in 12 games this season, 16 coming in the nine games following the death of her brother Garrett from a rare blood disorder.

“I’m wondering if you have my parents on the board who chooses this thing,” Hamm said jokingly on a conference call.

Keller is the first goalkeeper to win the honor, which was first awarded in 1984.

He has six shutouts in nine World Cup qualifying matches, extending to last year, and has allowed only six goals overall.

Knowing Mexico has never lost a World Cup qualifier in Mexico City doesn’t do much to boost the morale of the Americans for Sunday’s game.

It’s especially disheartening to the United States because it hasn’t gotten so much as a draw in 16 matches there and was routed 4-0 the last time.

Still, predicting they need four points from their last three matches to reach France ‘98, the Americans seem to be taking a “there’s always a first time” approach.

Mexico has a 4-0-3 record and 15 points, sits atop the CONCACAF final round standings and needs only a draw to assure itself of an 11th appearance in the World Cup finals.

The Americans (2-1-4) are in third place with 10 points, two behind Jamaica, but have played one fewer game. El Salvador is a point behind the United States, also having played one more game. Only the top three qualify for France.

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