On Monday, U.S. Soccer announced the five nominees for 2016 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. This year's nominees include forwards Crystal Dunn and Alex Morgan, midfielders Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd and defender Becky Sauerbrunn. Today we make the case for WNT midfielder and co-captain, and 2016 finalist for the FIFA Best Women's Player of the Year: Carli Lloyd.
In 2016, U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder and co-captain Carli Lloyd, the reigning FIFA Women’s Player of the Year and U.S. Soccer Female Payer of the Year, scored 17 goals and recorded 11 assists (a team-leading mark) in 21 games.
The total was one short of her career best 18 goals that she scored in her spectacular 2015, but she also did so in five fewer games, thus making her totals even more impressive. Her 17 scores in 2016 brought her total to 96 international goals, just four shy of becoming the sixth player in U.S. history to score 100 or more. Lloyd, who very fittingly scored the first WNT goal of 2016 against the Republic of Ireland in San Diego last January, had three multi-goal games this year.
In 2016, the U.S. Women’s National Team scored 92 goals so choosing a Top 10 was not an easy task. We selected our "Top 10 Goals of 2016" based on the quality of the goal, the skill of the finish, the importance of the goal and a dash of sentimental value (#ThanksHAO). Tell us, which is your favorite WNT goal of 2016? Did your favorite make the list?
1. Alex Morgan vs. Germany (SheBelieves Cup; March 9): The game-tying goal brought the USA back into the game after an early strike from Germany’s Anja Mittag had given the European Champions the lead in the de facto SheBelieves Cup Final. Meghan Klingenberg evaded a defender near midfield and lofted a ball over the top of the German defense down the left side into the path of the sprinting Morgan. She let the ball bounce twice, as she muscled out a first defender, before deftly lifting it over Saskia Bartusiak with her left foot and ripping a right-footed shot into the net in two fluid steps. The importance of the goal, the level of difficulty and the skill and style with which she finished takes the top spot in 2016.
2. Carli Lloyd vs. Switzerland (International Friendly; Oct. 23): Lloyd has scored 96 goals in her career including quite a few spectacular strikes from distance, but it’s safe to say this should be among her best. While nothing may ever top her midfield shot in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, this rocket against Switzerland comes close. Some swift interplay between Andi Sullivan, Lloyd and Kelley O’Hara resulted in Lloyd receiving a pass from O’Hara and advancing toward the Switzerland goal. Lloyd crushed a lightning bolt strike from 27 yards out for a finish that spurred FOX’s play-by-play announcer Glenn Davis to describe as “hit with no regard for humanity.” It was the equalizing to make it 1-1 in what would be a 5-1 U.S. victory.
3. Crystal Dunn vs. England (SheBelieves Cup; March 3): Dunn had a terrific year for the USA. She scored 14 goals, including her five-goal performance against Puerto Rico, and also scored her first Olympic goal. But it was her game-winning tally against England at the SheBelieves Cup that stood out. After a competitive first half between two of the top teams in the world, Dunn came in as a substitute in the second half. The goal came after Meghan Klingenberg did some nice work on the ball to the left of the penalty area and then slipped a pass between two England defenders for Dunn, who took two touches into the left corner of the box and then ripped a shot into the top right corner for an incredible finish in the 1-0 U.S. victory.
4. Christen Press vs. Costa Rica (Olympic Qualifying; Feb. 10): Press is a prodigious goal scorer. In 80 games with the WNT, she has scored 41 goals, which includes 12 in 2016. There was one however that stood tall amongst the rest as it required a high level of poise and skill. In the opening game of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, Tobin Heath found Press with a cross into the penalty area from the left side. With her back to the goal, and just outside the six-yard box, she settled the ball with the outside of her right foot away from a defender, spun around and finished into the roof of the net on the left side. Classy finish and classic Press.Read more
In 2016, the U.S. Women’s National Team played 25 matches and scored 92 goals. More than 65% were scored by four players: Crystal Dunn, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Christen Press.
Here is a breakdown of the performance of each player in 2016:
Crystal Dunn – A Breakthrough Year
Coming of an NWSL MVP season in 2015 with the Washington Sprit, Crystal Dunn had by far her best year as a U.S. WNT player in 2016. In her three previous yearly campaigns combined, Dunn had played in 20 games and scored four goals. In 2016 alone, she played in 25 games and scored 14 goals, more than tripling her tallies from 2013-15. She also played 1,494 minutes in 2016, a number that once again almost tripled the 532 minutes she played in 2013, the most she had been on the field before this year.
Dunn’s 2016 also included a five-goal game performance on Feb. 15 against Puerto Rico. On that day, Dunn became the seventh U.S. player to achieve that feat joining Brandi Chastain (1991), Michelle Akers (1991), Tiffeny Milbrett (2002), Abby Wambach (2004), Amy Rodriguez (2012) and Sydney Leroux (2012). It was also Dunn's first multi-goal game for the WNT.Read more
Photos from the U.S. WNT v Thailand match at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. After a month break from international play following the Olympic Games, the U.S. Women’s National Team returned to the field on Thursday, Sept. 15 and delivered a dominant performance. The WNT sent Heather O’Reilly off to international retirement in style, defeating Thailand 9-0 on the strength of a three-goal, four-assist performance from Carli Lloyd in front of 10,490 fans at MAPFRE Stadium.
The USA moves on to Atlanta where they face the Netherlands in a friendly at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, Sept. 18. (7 p.m. ET; FS1).Read more