Gatorade(R) National Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Soony Saad Former MLS Cup Champion and Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year Alecko Eskandarian Surprises Standout with Elite Honor

DETROIT, May 20 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 25th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Soony Saad of Dearborn High School (Dearborn, Mich.) as its 2009-10 Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year.  Saad was surprised with the news during his fifth period class at Dearborn High School by former MLS Cup MVP Alecko Eskandarian, who earned Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year honors in 1999-2000.

"When I received this award in 2000, it was a really significant moment for me, so it felt great to surprise Soony with the news and invite him into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said Eskandarian, a two-time MLS All-Star. "Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these kids."

Saad joins Eric Alexander (2005-06, Portage Central, Portage), now a MLS central midfielder with FC Dallas, as the only high school boys soccer players from the state of Michigan to earn Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year recognition.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Saad as the nation's best high school boys soccer player.  A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Saad from more than 383,000 high school boys soccer players nationwide. Saad is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.

The 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior forward set a state single-season record with 76 goals and also recorded 15 assists, leading the Pioneers (18-2-2) to the Division 1 state tournament round of 16.  A First Team All-American selection by ESPN RISE and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American honoree in 2009, Saad was also the 2007-08 U.S. Soccer U-16 Development Academy Player of the Year.  The Michigan Soccer Coaches Association's Mr. Soccer this past fall, Saad concluded his high school career with a state-record 172 goals along with 51 assists.

Saad has maintained a 3.44 GPA in the classroom.  A member of the Youth Muslim Association and the Muslim American Society, he has volunteered at multiple charity events in conjunction with those organizations.  He has also donated his time revamping, updating and redeveloping audio-visual initiatives at his Islamic Center of America mosque and as part of a local literacy-outreach program for elementary school students.

"Once every 10 or 20 years, someone comes through Michigan with his kind of ability," said Lars Richters, head coach of rival Livonia Stevenson High. "Soony Saad has been the best player in Michigan since he was five years old. He's a very intelligent player, he seems to be a step ahead of the game in terms of thinking. The unique skill he has is that he's a great goal-scorer, that being the toughest technique of the whole sport."

Saad has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on scholarship at the University of Michigan this fall.

"Without question, Soony is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school boys soccer player based on his statistics on the field and the impact his accomplishments have had on Dearborn's success," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jennifer Storms.  "But he is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young players of what a leader and a student-athlete should be.  He represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient."

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by ESPN RISE and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

To celebrate the award's 25th anniversary, Gatorade wants you to vote for the All-Time Greatest Boys Soccer Player of the Year at www.gatorade.com/POY25.  For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of former winners, and future announcement dates, visit the Gatorade Player of the Year Web site at http://playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.

ALL-TIME GATORADE NATIONAL BOYS SOCCER PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

YEAR

NAME

HIGH SCHOOL

STATUS

2009-10

Soony Saad

Dearborn High School/Dearborn, MI

High School Senior

2008-09

Dillon Powers

Plano Senior/Plano, TX

U. of Notre Dame

2007-08

Chris Agorsor

McDonough School/Owings Mills, MD

U. of Virginia

2006-07

Brayan Martinez

West Orange HS/West Orange, NJ

Seton Hall Univ.

2005-06

Eric Alexander

Portage Central/Portage, MI

FC Dallas

2004-05

Lee Nguyen

Plano East Senior/Plano, TX

Becamex Binh Duong FC

2003-04

Patrick Phelan

Wilbraham & Monson Acad./Wilbraham, MA

New England Revolution

2002-03

Greg Dalby

Poway/Poway, CA

Charlotte Eagles

2001-02

Jordan Harvey

Capistrano Valley/Mission Viejo, CA

Philadelphia Union

2000-01

Ned Grabavoy

Lincoln Way/New Lenox, IL

Real Salt Lake

1999-00

Alecko Eskandarian

Bergen Catholic/Oradell, NJ

Semi-Retired from MLS

1998-99

Kyle Martino

Staples, Westport/CT

Retired from MLS

1997-98

Nick Downing

Eastlake/Redmond, WA

Charleston Battery

1996-97

Nick Garcia

Bishop Lynch/Dallas, TX

Toronto FC

1995-96

Andy Kirk

Marquette University/Milwaukee, WI

Retired from MLS

1994-95

Pierre Venditti

Jonathon Law/Milford, CT

U. of Maryland Grad

1993-94

Andriy Shapowal

Kenston High/Chagrin Falls, OH

U. of Virginia Grad

1992-93

Mike Fisher

Batavia/Batavia, IL

U. of Virginia Grad

1991-92

Matt McKeon

De Smet Jesuit/St. Louis, MO

Saint Louis U. Grad

1990-91

Claudio Reyna

St. Benedict's Prep/Newark, NJ

Retired from MLS

1989-90

Todd Haskins

Howard/Ellicott City, MD

U. of N. Carolina Grad

1988-89

Chris Henderson

Cascade/Everett, WA

Retired from MLS

1987-88

Lyle Yorks

E.O. Smith/Storrs, CT

U. of Virginia Grad

1986-87

John Gwin

Boise/Boise, ID

Duke U. Grad

1985-86

Kevin Hundelt

Aquinas-Mercy/Hazelwood, MO

So. Illinois U. Grad




SOURCE The Gatorade Company



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