Making the Case: Megan Rapinoe, 2018 Female Player of the Year

WNT - Megan Rapinoe
WNT - Megan Rapinoe

On Nov. 20, U.S. Soccer announced the five nominees for 2018 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. This year's nominees are midfielders Julie Ertz and Lindsey Horan; and forwards Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. Today we conclude our “Making the Case” series with our fifth nominee, Megan Rapinoe.

If 2017 was the year that brought us a post-ACL, fully-recovered Megan Rapinoe, then 2018 saw her take it to an even higher level. This year, she was consistently dangerous with both her goal-scoring and setting up teammates, while her creative and dynamic flank play was one of the keys to the USA’s success.

Rapinoe led the USA in assists with 12, tied for her career-high in a calendar year. Seven of Rapinoe’s assists were on Alex Morgan goals. She started all 17 matches she played, logging 1,214 minutes (good for sixth on the team) and had seven goals. Her combined goals and assists (19) were highest on the U.S. team for any player besides Morgan (21).

While she was a key figure in almost every game she featured in for the U.S. this past year, she had a game for the record books against Mexico on April 8. She scored one goal and notched four assists in the 6-2 victory in what was her 135th international appearance (she finished 2018 with 145). It was the first game of her career in which she had four assists. She joined Carli Lloyd as the only players during the last two years with a goal and 3+ assists in a match.

Rapinoe was a finalist for NWSL MVP in a year that saw her play 1,315 minutes over 16 games for the Seattle Reign as they finished third in the NWSL. She scored seven goals (tied for 10th in the league) and had six assists (tied for fourth) and was named to the NWSL Best XI.

She was one of 10 finalists for the 2018 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and finished fourth in the voting, just one percentage point out of third, and she also won the 2018 ESPY for Best NWSL player. Rapinoe is also a nominee for the first France Football Women's Ballon d'Or.