2018 is coming to a close and as the U.S. Women’s National Team prepares to ring in a new year, that includes being World Cup bound and undefeated against their opposition.
The USWNT participated in 20 matches over the course of the year, along with club play in the NWSL. This year we got to see head coach Jill Ellis narrow the group of players regularly called into various camps and friendlies. We saw a more familiar lineup with a consistent formation, and while 2018 helped solidify some things, along the way we would see a mix of new faces every now and then.
While first caps for collegiate callup Tierna Davidson and NWSL standout Danielle Colaprico provided notable moments, there were specific players who were pivotal to the success of this year for the national team and will likely be integral to 2019.
In recapping most end-of-year things, here’s numbers 5 and 4 of the USWNT Top 5 players of 2018.
5.) Lindsey Horan
While having a career type season for club, Horan was a crucial component to the Portland Thorns midfield. Crowned the 2018 NWSL MVP, she became a regular in the U.S. midfield appearing in 19 games (starting in 16) of USA’s 20 matches during 2018.
While her most memorable goal of 2018 is a late game equalizer against Australia during Tournament of Nations, she had another lethal header against CONCACAF rivals Mexico back in April. CONCACAF rivals Mexico went up 2-1 against USA in front of heavy Mexican crowd in Houston, Horan equalized in the 25th minute and set in motion another win for USA in 2018.
Horan’s growing role on the USWNT echoed that of her club team, where she won 2018 NWSL MVP honors with Portland Thorns FC, and helped lead the Thorns back to the NWSL championship final.
Horan’s 3 goals on the season are overshadowed by her 8 assists on the year, and at 24 years old, her role on the national team has evolved both on offense and defense. With a midfield full of talent, that has seen players this year like Morgan Brian, Rose Lavelle, and McCall Zerboni - Horan has become top tier in a pyramid of midfielders.
4.) Julie Ertz
The 2017 reigning player of the year continued to show why she has become the face of the midfield for the national team. Running the defensive midfielder role for the national team, Ertz has been responsible for being the lynch pin between the offense and defense.
She closed out her 2018 as the top player during CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, winning Golden Ball for her play during the tournament. While she is known for her cogent challenges and toughness on the ball, it was the way she opened her 2018 campaign with the national team that set the tone for the rest of the year.
Her goal in the 19th minute against Denmark in January 2018 gave USA the lead as the two teams were tied 1-1. A long ball served in from Abby Dahlkemper found Tierna Davidson on a header, but it was Ertz who found herself in position to connect on net and put the U.S. up 2-1.
Ertz’s presence on the pitch this year was both reliable and dynamic as she started in 15 of her 16 appearances in 2018. While scoring 4 goals for the national team, she helped lead the Chicago Red Stars to their fourth consecutive appearance in the NWSL semifinals.
We’ll be back tomorrow with #3 and #2!