On Monday, U.S. Soccer announced the five nominees for 2016 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. This year's nominees include forwards Crystal Dunn and Alex Morgan, midfielders Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd and defender Becky Sauerbrunn. Today we continue to make the case for each of the candidates with WNT forward, Alex Morgan.
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 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 (tied for the team lead with Carli Lloyd), her second highest goal total in a calendar year in her seven-year career with the WNT. She also had three assists. The only other time Morgan scored double-digit goals for the USA in a calendar year was in 2012 (28 goals), when she earned her first (and to date, only) U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year award.
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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