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.
Perhaps her biggest moment came at the Olympics when Dunn scored her first goal in a world championship. With the USA down a goal against Colombia on Aug. 9 in Manaus, Dunn found herself in a good spot after Carli Lloyd unloaded a thunderous shot that Colombia goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda pushed onto the crossbar. The rebound fell to an unmarked Dunn in the box and the Olympic debutant made no mistake, tapping the ball into the center of the goal from close range.
Besides her ability to find the back of the net, Dunn also has a keen eye for setting up goals as well. She finished 2016 with eight assists, second most on the team and tied with Tobin Heath.
Carli Lloyd – Keeps Getting Better
It was not going to be easy for the reigning FIFA Women’s Player of the Year to have a better year than she did in 2015 when she scored 18 goals and recorded five assists in 26 games (her best year as a goal scorer) – which included her infamous hat trick in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final. And yet, this is Carli Lloyd we are talking about.
Lloyd scored 17 goals and recorded 11 assists (a team-leading mark) in 21 games in 2016. The total was one short from her career best of 18 goals that she had achieved the previous year, but was also achieved in in five less games, thus making her total numbers even more impressive. Lloyd is the first player in U.S. history to score 15 or more goals in three consecutive calendar years (she scored 15 in 2014). Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach were close, but never accomplished that achievement.
Since the Round of 16 at the WWC, Lloyd has scored 33 goals in her last 34 matches. In fact, Lloyd scored 36 international goals between the time she debuted six days’ shy of age 23, and when she turned 30. Remarkably, since she’s turned 30, she has scored 60 goals in just over four years. With 96 international goals to her name, Lloyd finished 2016 just four goals shy from 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 this past January, had three multi-goal games this year. Against Thailand on Sept. 15, Lloyd was part of seven of the nine goals the USA scored. She recorded her seventh international hat trick and added four assists. She became the first player in U.S. history to record three goals and four assists in a single WNT match.
Against Switzerland on Oct. 23 in Minneapolis, Lloyd, who scored twice that day, tallied a goal that will go down as one of the best she’s ever scored as she absolutely crushed a shot from distance into the upper right corner. Of course, we all know what was probably THE best goal she’s ever scored, but the blast against Switzerland was sure one of the most spectacular of the other 95 goals during her career.
At the Olympics, Lloyd tallied twice for the USA and became the only American to score multiple goals in three separate Olympics (’08,’12,’16). Her eight Olympic goals put her in second place behind Abby Wambach’s U.S. record of 10 Olympic goals.
Alex Morgan – The Comeback
After battling injuries in 2014-15, Morgan had a strong 2016, kicking off the year in her home state of California, where she earned her 100th cap, the 34th U.S. woman player to do so, and scored her first goal of the year in a win against Ireland in San Diego.
Morgan went on to score 17 goals in 21 games in 2016, her second highest total for goals in a calendar year in her seven-year career with the WNT. She finished the year tied with Carli Lloyd for most goals. The only other time Morgan scored double-digit goals for the USA in a calendar year was in 2012 (28 goals), which also happened to be an Olympic year. Additionally, Morgan, now with 73 international tallies in 120 caps, is within two goals of tying Cindy Parlow for seventh on the USA’s all-time scoring list.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, Morgan scored the game-tying goal against Sweden in regulation that took the game into extra time before falling in the penalty shootout. Her goal was her sixth Olympic goal, which placed her in sole possession of third place behind Carli Lloyd (8) and Abby Wambach (10) on the USA’s Olympic goals-scored list.
She also scored an unforgettable goal during the Olympic Qualifying tournament. Back on Feb. 10 against Costa Rica, Morgan scored 12 seconds into the match to add her name to the record books as the earliest goal in U.S. WNT history.
Most recently, Morgan scored twice against Romania on Nov. 10, making it her 20th career multi-goal game. Since making her WNT debut in 2010, Morgan has averaged 0.60 goals per game in her international career.
Christen Press – Finding Balance
In 2016, her fourth year with the WNT, Christen Press scored 12 goals and recorded six assists in 25 games, making her and Dunn the only two players to feature in every game for the USA.
While these were all new yearly highs for Press (goals, games played and assists), the goals have always seemed to remain as the steady factor for the California native. In fact, Press scored eight goals in 2013, 11 in 2014, 10 in 2015 and 12 in 2016. Such an achievement earned Press a rare accolade as she became the fifth player in WNT history to score in double-figures in goals for three consecutive years. Mia Hamm (twice), Abby Wambach (twice), Tiffeny Milbrett, and Lloyd also accomplished the feat (Lloyd over the past three years as well).
Press has now moved past April Heinrichs and Sydney Leroux into 14th place on the U.S. WNT all-time goals list. She is averaging just over a goal for every two games she plays (0.51 goals per game) for the WNT and has 41 international goals in 80 caps.
After a heartbreaking miss on a penalty kick at the Olympic Games against Sweden on Aug. 12, Press came back to the team for the final six games of the year and scored seven of her 12 goals in that span, including at least one goal in the each of the final four games of 2016.
Against Romania on Nov. 10, Press recorded her fourth career hat trick, notching all goals in the first 38 minutes of the match. Press’ previous hat tricks came at the end of 2014 against Argentina (when she scored four times), against Costa Rica in August of 2015 and against Trinidad & Tobago in December of 2015.