Top U.S. Collegiate Soccer Players Named

Darlington Nagbe of Akron and Christen Press of Stanford reflect the growing visibility of black athletes in U.S. soccer.

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Remember when soccer was a white suburban sport? Times have changed. In the last two years, three black players have been named the top collegiate soccer players in the U.S.

This week, a black man and a black woman were declared the best collegiate soccer players in the country and awarded the 2010 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy. The Hermann is collegiate soccer's annual equivalent to the Heisman Trophy in the other football. Coaches vote to select the best NCAA Division I players.

The winning woman is Christen Press, a senior forward on Stanford University's powerful women's soccer team. The communications major was one of three finalists and has golden soccer credentials. She was the 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year, and she led her team to consecutive College Cup finals. Press was also the NCAA Division One leader in goals (26), points (60) and points per game (2.50). Ten of her goals were game winners, and she had eight assists. See her score in 2008.

Press was also a starter on the U.S. under-23 national team that played in Germany in May 2010. She was a four-year starter in high school in Palos Verdes, Calif., and a Parade-magazine All-American.

The male winner is Darlington Nagbe. He is a senior at the University of Akron. The son of Liberian immigrants, Nagbe was the captain of the Zips, the Akron men's soccer team that won the NCAA Division One soccer championship in 2010. Last season he scored seven goals and had 13 assists.

During his high school years, his Ohio club team won four titles, and he was a member of the U.S. under-15 national pool in 2004. Nagbe's father is a former captain of Liberia's national team.

Last year an Afro-Canadian, Teal Bunbury of the University of Akron, was chosen as the best male player and received the 2009 Hermann Trophy. He is now a member of Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer.

Frank McCoy is a regular contributor to The Root.

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