Making the Case: Tobin Heath, 2018 Female Player of the Year

WNT - Tobin Heath
WNT - Tobin Heath

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 continue “Making the Case” with Tobin Heath.

U.S. Women’s National Team forward Tobin Heath has always been one of the USA’s most entertaining players. She has long dazzled fans with her sublime skills, keen passing and dynamic dribbling, and she creates excitement on whichever flank she happens to occupy. She was forced to sit out the majority of 2017 and early parts of 2018 due to injuries, and Heath didn’t return to the U.S. lineup until June 12 of this year after completing her long recovery.

The 2016 Female Player of the Year picked up right where she left off, finishing the latter half of the year with seven goals and six assists in just 10 games and 657 minutes. In her return to the field on June 12, 2018 against China PR (she had last played for the USA on Sept. 19, 2017 against New Zealand), she came into the match in the 64th minute and scored the game-winner in the 75th.

Heath averaged a goal or an assist for every 50 minutes on the field this year and scored one of the most important goals of 2018 when she tallied against Brazil in the Tournament of Nations in Chicago. The goal made it 3-1, giving the USA the margin of goal difference it needed to win the title.

She also scored against Chile and had four goals in World Cup qualifying. She had several spectacular assists during the year, most notably against Brazil in the Tournament of Nations when her world-class dribbling run and cross set up Julie Ertz to give the USA a 2-1 lead.

Heath was equally as good for the Portland Thorns this season, for whom she played 1,267 minutes over 17 games and scored seven goals with seven assists. Even though she missed a few games at the start of the campaign, she was still named to the NWSL Best XI, helping the Thorns to a second-place finish in the NWSL and a berth to the championship game.