CARLI LLOYD, Midfielder
Carli Lloyd had a memorable 2012, amassing double figures in goals during a calendar year for the first time in her career, which included both goals during the Olympic gold medal game as the USA defeated Japan 2-1 in front of 80,203 fans at Wembley Stadium in London. As of November, she had scored 13 total goals this year. She registered her first career hat trick in the semifinal of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament as the USA defeated Mexico 4-0 to earn its Olympic berth. Lloyd scored six goals during Olympic qualifying – tied for most on the team – including tallies in the first four games of the tournament. Lloyd started the Olympics as a reserve, but after an injury to Shannon Boxx early in the first match against France, she came into the game and played every minute the rest of the way, producing excellent performances that were vital to the USA's gold medal run over the six Olympic matches. She scored four goals at the Olympics, the second most on the team, and her blistering strike from outside the penalty area against France proved to be the winning goal in the 4-2 come-from-behind victory. She also scored the clinching goal against Colombia in group play. As of November, Lloyd had played in all 27 games for the USA this year and passed 40 career goals in 2012, becoming the 11th U.S. player to reach that milestone. She was named to the 10-player short list for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year.
ALEX MORGAN, Forward
Alex Morgan has enjoyed one the best goal-scoring years in U.S. history during 2012, pounding in 24 goals as of November, which could go down as the third-most goals ever scored in a calendar year by a U.S. player. Reinforcing her impact on the team, she leads the USA in assists with 18 (currently four short of Mia Hamm's record set in 2004). Fast becoming one of the most dangerous strikers in the world, Morgan's dynamic attacking style and penchant for dramatic goals has quickly endeared her to fans in the USA and around the world. Morgan earned a regular starting spot in January of this year and has scored her 24 goals in 26 games and has had eight multiple-goal games this year, including her first career hat trick, which she scored against Sweden in the third-place match of the Algarve Cup. She scored two goals with two assists in the championship game of the CONCACAF Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament as the USA defeated Canada 4-0. She scored three times and had four assists (tied for best on the team) at the 2012 Olympics and scored one of the most important and dramatic goals in U.S. history against Canada in the semifinal, capping a game in which the USA came back to equalize three times before Morgan's goal in the 123rd minute – the latest goal in FIFA history – won the game. She also assisted on Carli Lloyd's first goal in the Olympic gold medal game with a wonderfully chipped cross. She was named to the 10-player short list for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year.
HOPE SOLO, Goalkeeper
Hope Solo had another stellar year in the nets for the USA, starting 26 of the USA's 27 games through November, while allowing just 17 goals and earning 10 shutouts. She has posted a record of 21-1-2 through November, one of the best years in history for a U.S. goalkeeper. She made several key saves in the championship game of the CONCACAF Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament, allowing the USA to roll past Canada 4-0 in that match, and solidified her standing as the world's best goalkeeper with an excellent showing at the Olympics. She earned shutouts in three of the six games at the Olympics while playing every minute of the tournament. Her performance in the Olympic gold medal game was one for the ages, as she made several brilliant and spectacular saves to preserve the 2-1 victory for the USA in front of 80,203 fans at Wembley Stadium in London. During the year, she set a U.S. record for consecutive minutes played as a goalkeeper at 1,163 and played the most minutes of any U.S. player in 2012 with 2,288 through November. She also set a personal highs for games and minutes played in a calendar year, while surpassing 10,000 minutes played in her career, just the second U.S. 'keeper to reach that mark.
MEGAN RAPINOE, Midfielder
Megan Rapinoe set career highs in virtually every category in 2012 as she started 16 of the 24 games she played, scoring six goals with 10 assists. The crafty and dynamic style of play that has made her a fan favorite was on full display during the 2012 Olympics, where she started all six games and scored three goals with four assists, tied for a team-high in the tournament. Rapinoe scored the crucial first goal in the 3-0 group win over Colombia, and in the semifinal she scored two of the most impressive goals in U.S. history, twice tying the score against Canada after the USA had fallen behind by a goal. She tied the game at 1-1 when she scored directly off a corner kick from the left side and then equalized at 2-2 with a brilliant strike from distance that crashed off the left post and into the side netting at the opposite corner. Rapinoe also had four assists during the Olympics, including on Lloyd's game-winner at Wembley. She was named to the 10-player short list for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year.
ABBY WAMBACH, Forward
Abby Wambach had the second best goal-scoring year of her historic 12-year international career, registering 23 goals through November to up her career total to 148, just 10 short of Mia Hamm's all-time record. Wambach, who was previously the only player in U.S. history to score 20 or more goals twice in a calendar year, is now the only player to do it three times. The USA's emotional leader, Wambach set a record by scoring in the first five games of the 2012 Olympics and once again led the USA in scoring during a world championship event, a feat she has accomplished in every Women's World Cup or Olympics in which she has participated. In the opening game, she scored the USA's first goal against France on a header to get the USA's comeback going, and the team never looked back. She scored the USA's second goal against Colombia in the 3-0 victory after getting sucker-punched in the eye and then scored the winning goal in the 1-0 victory against Korea DPR to win the group. Wambach scored the USA's first goal in the 2-0 quarterfinal victory against New Zealand and then memorably nailed the clutch penalty kick to tie the semifinal against Canada at 3-3 in the 80th minute. Wambach led the USA at the CONCACAF Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament with six goals (tied with Carli Lloyd) and five assists. Wambach scored one of the goals of the year against Sweden in Halmstad in June, crushing a wonderful half-volley from 35 yards over the goalkeeper, following that up with two goals against Japan at the same stadium two days later in a 4-1 victory. She had five multiple-goal games in 2012. She was named to the 10-player short list for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year.