The 4th season of the NWSL is over, making it the most successful women’s professional soccer league in history. As Portland Western New York, Washington, and Chicago fight for the championship we’ll take the time to put together our Top 11, Second 11, and individual award winners. The top 11 and season awards are the same list (and players) I submitted to the league for voting.The second 11 were my choices, although the league will base it off total votes cast for the First 11. The Fanteractive Bonus Awards were made up by me, but equally prestigious.
GoalKeeper: Nicole Barnhart; There just wasn’t anyone close to Barnhart this year. Her play was stellar this season and it's a shame that her time with the USWNT appears to be over.
Defenders: Becky Sauerbrunn, Lauren Barnes, Emily Menges, Whitney Engen; Sauerbrunn remains the best central defender in the women’s game and should collect her third consecutive Defensive player of the year award. Menges was the best defender for Portland, which is no small feat. Engen was the best player on Boston’s team and showed a steely resolve and ability to lead that she doesn’t often get a chance to in international play. Lauren Barnes played well enough to earn a call up with the USWNT and looks like she will play a role in the future of that squad.
Midfielders: Tobin Heath, Samantha Mewis, Allie Long; Tobin Heath was simply the best player in the league this year. Portland’s offense was drastically different when she was on the field and her 10 assists, in 14 games, is amazing. Samantha Mewis had a quiet year stats wise but she was the quiet conductor of the league’s best offense. Allie Long, like Lauren Barnes, earned a shot at international play based on her years of excellent league play.
Forwards: Kealia Ohai, Jessica MacDonald, Lynn Williams; Ohai, MacDonald, and Williams are no brainers here. Ohai, particularly, finished strong and really carried a Houston team that missed both Morgan Brian and Carli Lloyd for much of the season.
GoalKeeper: Alyssa Naeher
Defenders: Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, Keelin Winters
Midfielders: Sarah Killion, Diana Matheson, Yael Averbuch
Forwards: Christen Press, Nadia Nadim, Shea Groom
MVP: Tobin Heath
Golden Boot: Lynn Williams (Williams wins the tiebreaker over Ohai by having more assists)
Goalkeeper of the Year: Nicole Barnhart
Defender of The Year: Becky Sauerbrunn
Coach of The Year: Paul Riley. This could have also gone to Mark Parsons in Portland but given the difference in both talent and experience Riley deserves the nod.
Fanteractive Bonus Awards
Breakthrough Player: Kealia Ohai; Welcome to the big time, Kealia.
Rookie Of The Year: Rachel Daly; Welcome to the big leagues, Rachel.
Comeback Player: Natasha Kai; Welcome back, Tasha.