Don Garber won the 2022 Werner Fricker Award. (USA TODAY Sports)

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, Janeicia Neely and Lesle Gallimore received the Werner Fricker Builder Award, the Kim Crabbe Game Changers Award, and the Carla Overbeck Leadership Award, respectively, at the U.S. Soccer dinner at the organization’s AGM on Saturday night.

Werner Fricker Award

Don Garber received the 2022 Werner Fricker Builder Award, which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an individual by U.S. Soccer. Garber has served as the MLS commissioner since 1999 and has played a crucial role in growing the sport in North America during his tenure. Garber earned the honor in 2022 but deferred to 2023.

Throughout Garber’s 24-year tenure, MLS has expanded from 10 to 29 clubs, added new, diverse owners and secured long-term agreements with major broadcast outlets in the U.S. and throughout the world. Garber has also led efforts to develop 26 soccer-specific stadiums in the United States and Canada, with more set to open in the next few years.

Kim Grabbe Award

Janeicia Neely earned the inaugural Kim Crabbe Game Changers Award. Established by Game Changers United – U.S. Soccer’s external Advisory Council focused on advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) across all areas of American soccer – the award is given to a member of the soccer community who has made a lasting impact in the areas of DEIB in a creative way while fostering long-term sustainability for the future of soccer.

Neely is the executive director for The 18th Ward, where she designs and manages 12 youth development programs and leads the organization’s efforts. In 2023, the program created more than 4,000 opportunities for youth players.

Neely trains more than 100 high school and college students to lead each program. She was awarded the 2021 Up2Us Sports National Coach of the Year Award and was the New Orleans Pelicans 2022 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year. She’s a graduate and Hall of Fame inductee of Loyola University and a former professional basketball player in Portugal and Switzerland.

The award is named after Kim Crabbe, a pioneer in women’s soccer who became the first African American woman to play for the USWNT in 1986.

Carla Overbeck Leadership Award

An American soccer coach, educator, mentor and inspirational leader who has dedicated her life to the sport, Lesle Gallimore was named the first-ever recipient of the Carla Overbeck Leadership Award. The honor is given to an individual who demonstrates a unique ability to lead and guide others and who contributes to the success of an initiative that benefits those outside their own organization and places emphasis on collaboration within and among leadership.

In June 2002, Gallimore was appointed the first commissioner of the Girls Academy. Prior to that, she coached the women’s soccer program at the University of Washington and retired as the winningest coach in program history. Gallimore has also been in involved in the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative, a group which led soccer clinics and leadership training sessions for young female coaches from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya.

The award is named after former USWNT captain and National Soccer Hall of Famer Carla Overbeck. Overbeck led the 1996 gold medal Olympic team and the 1999 World Cup championship side, and has been lauded for her leadership by former teammates and coaches. She continues to lead with more than 30 years of experience as a college coach at Duke University.