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Player of the Year favorites
by Paul Kennedy, November 24th, 2009 8:30AM

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[PLAYER OF THE YEAR] Last year Akron's Steve Zakuani was the easy choice for Player of the Year honors. The Akron striker from Zaire by way of London led the nation in scoring this past season with 20 goals and 47 points in 23 games and ended up being the No. 1 pick by the Seattle Sounders in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.

This year, there has been no dominating player like Zakuani was in 2008 and Connecticut's O'Brian White was two years ago.

Here are our top candidates for Men's Player of the Year honors ...

Five favorites ...
ANDRE AKPAN. The senior could have gone pro before now, but he chose to complete his Harvard education. The former U.S. under-20 World Cup player has 12 goals for the Ivy League champions this season and 47 in his career, tying Chris Ohiri for the Crimson all-time scoring record.

ANTHONY AMPAIPITAKWONG.
Like Akpan, Ampaipitakwong is a product of the Dallas Texans. He earned All-American honors playing alongside Zakuani last year and is a Player of the Year candidate as a junior. He scored two brilliant goals on Sunday -- his sixth and seventh of the season -- on a free kick from 23 yards and goal from 22 yards out against South Florida.

CORBEN BONE.
The Wake Forest junior was named the ACC Player of the Year, helping the Demon Deacons share the ACC regular-season title and earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, Bone led the nation with 17 assists. This year, he has 11, one behind teammate Austin da Luz's team high.

TEAL BUNBURY. The son of former Canada star Alex Bunbury played in Zakuani's shadow as a freshman as Akron but has been the Zips' top scorer during their 21-0-0 run. His 16 goals are tied for first in the nation with Adelphi's French freshman, Issa Tall.

KYLE NAKAZAWA. The former U.S. U-17 star has had a stellar senior season for UCLA, leading the Bruins with a career-high 12 goals and six assists. An early run of seven goals in six games helped propel the Bruins as high as No. 2 in the Soccer America rankings. He has a goal or assist on 18 of the Bruins' 29 goals.

Five more worth considering ...
IRVING GARCIA. It's a long way from the small Arizona border town of San Luis to UC Irvine, but the 5-foot-5 playmaker led the Anteaters to back-to-back 15-win seasons after transferring from Yavapai College.

ASHLEY McINNES. The junior forward arrived at Tulsa from the Aberdeen youth program in Scotland and has helped the Golden Hurricane win three straight Conference USA titles.

DIEGO RESTREPO.
The South Florida transfer has been outstanding in goal for Virginia with nine straight shutouts. Along the way, the Cavaliers won the ACC Tournament and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

BILLY SCHULER.
The sophomore forward has been a key to North Carolina's 14-2-3 season. Seven of his nine goals have been the winner for the Tar Heels.

JASON YEISLEY.
The Penn State senior's comeback following two knee injuries and a 20-month layoff culminated with his selection as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and a No. 7 seed for the Nittany Lions in the NCAA Tournament.


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