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
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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
The U.S. Women’s National Team wrapped up its 2016 schedule with a pair of big results against Romania, winning 8-1 on Nov. 10 and 5-0 on Nov. 13 to finish the year with a 22-0-3 record. Since the penalty kick loss to Sweden at the Olympics officially counts as a tie, 2016 marks only the third time that the WNT has finished a year unbeaten in regulation when it has played 10 or more matches.
A 23-player roster trained for five days in San Jose, California at Stevens Stadium – the home field of Santa Clara University where Julie Johnston starred for four seasons – before it’s Nov. 10 matchup against Romania at Avaya Stadium.
“It’s always special to come back here,” Johnston, who played the entire second half just a stone’s throw from her old campus, said. “My school is one hop away from the stadium so having our second-to-last game of 2016 here is definitely exciting.”
Three uncapped players were on the November camp roster in defender Emily Menges, midfielder Kristin Edmonds and forward Jessica McDonald, upping the total of uncapped players that head coach Jill Ellis named to rosters for the final four games of 2016 to 14.
Against Romania in San Jose, the U.S. women dominated the match scoring eight goals in front of more than 16,000 fans. The effort was led by Stanford grad Christen Press, who scored her fourth career hat trick, finding the net three times in the first 38 minutes of the game.
For Press, as well as the entire player pool, the end of 2016 is just a transition towards a continued evolution and growth that will be needed in less than three years when the USA attempts to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
“Right now I have a lot on my mind in terms of where I want to be as a player and how I want to push myself as a player and nudge myself to the next level,” Press said after her three-goal performance. “The goals were the last thing on my mind and I was just focused on trying to be more aggressive and put more pressure on the other team and work on the things that I feel I need to work on to have a more prominent role on this team. Scoring is something I take so much pride in and have so much passion for.”
Alex Morgan added two goals, upping her total to 73 international tallies. The California native is now two away from tying Cindy Parlow for seventh on the all-time scoring list. Morgan finished the year with 17 goals, tying Carli Lloyd for most on the team in 2016.
Additionally, the USA benefitted from a Romania own goal, as well as goals by Tobin Heath – who scored a fantastic angled shot – and Morgan Brian, who found the back of the net for the first time this year, on a diving header no less.
McDonald earned her first cap in San Jose, making her the eighth player to debut under Ellis in 2016. The other seven were: Abby Dahlkemper, Ashley Hatch, Kealia Ohai, Mallory Pugh, Casey Short, Andi Sullivan and Lynn Williams.Read more