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.
5. Alex Morgan vs. France (SheBelieves Cup; March 6): You don’t see many “walk-off” goals in soccer but this one may qualify. Few things are more exciting than scoring a game-winning goal in second half stoppage time and Morgan electrified the crowd of 25,363 fans in Nashville when she did exactly that. Against France in a game that been a display of excellent soccer for 90 minutes, Mallory Pugh brought the ball down at midfield, took a few touches as she sprinted forward and then played Morgan in behind the defense with a perfectly-weighted pass. She out-sprinted her defender and cut her left-footed shot into the lower right corner from just inside the penalty area for a slick game-winning finish in the first minute of stoppage.
6. Tobin Heath vs. Romania (International Friendly; Nov. 10): Heath is known for her silky skills, sweet moves and tremendous work ethic, but she can score goals too. This was Heath’s best statistical year as she finished with six goals and eight assists – both career bests for the 28-year-old. Against Romania in San Jose, Heath showed why she and the ball are often one. Christen Press picked up the ball in the center of the midfield and dribbled forward before playing a pass on the ground into the left side of the box that rolled past Morgan Brian to Heath. Heath then curled a stunning shot around the goalkeeper from a surreal angle and into the upper right hand corner to double the USA’s lead. Her celebration was also classic Heath.
7. Mallory Pugh vs. Republic of Ireland (International Friendly, Jan. 23): Before Pugh grew into an important member of the WNT and became the youngest player in U.S. history to score at the Olympic Games, she was just a 17-year-old making her debut for the USA in San Diego. Coming into the game to replace Alex Morgan in the 58th minute, Pugh added her name to the record books shortly after when she became the 19th player to score in her first cap with a timely finish in the 83rd minute that gave early indications that she was already ready for the big leagues. Christen Press made a run into the left side of the box and brought the ball down well, but her touch took her away from the goal. She spun back towards the net and hit a cross the ball could run out of bounds. A slashing Pugh darted in front of her defender to redirect a header into the goal at the near post for her first international goal.
8. Tobin Heath vs. Canada (Olympic Qualifying; Feb. 21): In the Championship match of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament and against one of the USA’s fiercest rivals, Heath scored with a powerful strike from just outside the penalty box. It was Mallory Pugh who made a dynamic run down the left flank, beating her defender with a brilliant nutmeg before racing into the box before playing a square ball on the ground through the penalty area. Heath was making a hard run into the middle and smashed a first-time left-footer inside the near post to up the score line to 2-0 and secure the USA’s fourth Olympic Qualifying tournament title.
9. Heather O’Reilly vs. Thailand (International Friendly; Sept. 15): After 231 caps, three Olympic Gold medals, a 2002 U-19 FIFA Women’s World Cup title and a 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup title, Heather O’Reilly, aka HAO, retired from international soccer on Sept. 15 on a night that could not have been scripted any better. Not only did the WNT scored nine goals for number nine, but she was responsible for an assist and a goal. Her last career goal came when Carli Lloyd ran on to a misplayed back pass by Thailand, took the ball into the box on the left and drove towards the net before cutting back for O’Reilly. She finished strongly into the open net and celebrated with her teammates and the crowd. She finished with 55 assists and 47 goals to wrap up a spectacular career on a high note. #ThanksHAO
10. Morgan Brian vs. Romania (International Friendly; Nov. 10): Brian hadn’t scored since April of 2015, but got off the schneid in spectacular fashion against Romania in the USA’s second-to-last match of the year, finishing on a tremendous diving header. After a foul against Crystal Dunn gave the USA a free kick just outside the penalty box on the right side near the end line, Andi Sullivan served a beautiful cross into the heart of the box for a diving Brian, who headed it into the lower left corner after a powerful run left her defender trailing behind.