Both Carli Lloyd and Jill Ellis have made the final three lists for FIFA’s Best awards in 2016.
Lloyd is shortlisted along with Germany’s Melanie Behringer and Brazil’s Marta. Ellis is nominated with Germany’s Silvia Neid and Sweden’s Pia Sundhage.
These were the 10 original player nominees:
Camille Abily (France/Olympique Lyonnais)
Melanie Behringer (Germany/FC Bayern Munich)
Sara Däbritz (Germany/FC Bayern Munich)
Amandine Henry (France/Portland Thorns)
Saki Kumagai (Japan/Olympique Lyonnais)
Carli Lloyd (USA/Houston Dash)
Dzsenifer Marozsán (Germany/1. FFC Frankfurt/Olympique Lyonnais)
Marta (Brazil/FC Rosengård)
Lotta Schelin (Sweden/Olympique Lyonnais/ FC Rosengård)
Christine Sinclair (Canada/Portland Thorns)
And these were the 10 original coach nominees:
Philippe Bergeroo (France/French national team)
Jill Ellis (USA/US national team)
John Herdman (England/Canadian national team)
Silvia Neid (Germany/German national team)
Vera Pauw (Netherlands/South African national team)
Gérard Prêcheur (France/Olympique Lyonnais)
Pia Sundhage (Sweden/Swedish national team)
Oswaldo Vadão (Brazil/Brazilian national team)
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (Germany/Swiss national team)
Thomas Wörle (Germany/FC Bayern Munich)
Voting is done by a combination of team captains, head coaches, one media representative from each nation, and fans.
There are fair arguments to be made here that neither Lloyd nor Ellis belong on the three-person shortlist, especially when considering the achievements of others who were nominated. It was not a banner year for either of the Americans nominated.
The United States were famously booted from the Olympics this year in quarterfinals by none other than Sweden. Lloyd didn’t have the brightest tournament and Ellis very much did not have a good tournament.
Yes, Lloyd has 17 goals and 11 assists on the year in 21 games played. 11 of her goals were against countries ranked out of the top 20. She had one goal against a truly high-caliber team, scoring against France in the United States’ 1-0 win over them in the Olympics. (Let’s not forget her disallowed goal against Sweden in the Olympics though. Had that goal been allowed, perhaps the narrative now would be completely different.) She probably wasn’t the most effective/impactful player for the USWNT alone this year, let alone internationally. That honor should probably include Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn in the conversation.
As for Jill Ellis, yes the WNT went 22-0-3 this year. But consider only 12 of those games were against teams in the top 20. Should a 9-0 win against Thailand really be part of the consideration for best coaching honors? On the other hand, the WNT did beat teams like England, France, Germany, and Japan in those 12 games vs top-ranked teams.
Still, that Olympic loss is a giant counterweight to any arguments about performing during the She Believes tournament earlier this year, and the way in which the United States got eliminated along with the many concerns about Ellis’ roster management should be enough to take her out of top three contention.
Unfortunately, there’s always an element of carryover vote, at least with the women’s awards. Name recognition counts for a lot, especially with lower-ranked countries where they don’t necessarily have a lot of resources to follow or develop their WNT program.
Who do you think deserves to be in the conversation for top three? Leave your thoughts in the comments.