Yesterday, the USWNT Top 5 players of 2018 kicked off with Lindsey Horan and Julie Ertz at numbers 5 and 4. Today will be the continuation of numbers 3 and 2, with athletes who have become can’t miss players on the pitch.
Sometimes injuries or other unforeseen circumstances can force a head coach to make changes, and for other players to make epic adjustments. Both players at #3 and #2 have surpassed those challenges and both should be elected as 2018 Player of the year, despite only one of them being nominated this year.
3.) Crystal Dunn
Few players have had the type of year that Dunn has had. A comeback into the NWSL, playing several positions on the National Team, a breezy World Cup Qualifiers, and lifting the NWSL Championship trophy with North Carolina Courage, are just a few of her accomplishments this year.
After playing abroad with Chelsea FC, a trade between Washington Spirit and NC Courage sent waves around the league during the offseason. With her return stateside, Dunn’s profile continued to rise for both club and country.
Dunn opened her 2018 campaign with a goal against Denmark back in January. She would add another during CONCACAF qualifiers, along with 2 assists on the year, all while playing various roles and positions on the pitch. Injuries to perennial outside backs, Kelley O’hara and Casey Short, saw a number of players rotate into the OB role during 2018 - but it was Dunn who has emerged as #1 at the position.
While many have lauded players like Ertz and Horan as integral components to the team for the future of 2019, it is Dunn who has been slotted into multiple lines, asked to play numerous positions for the National Team, while dominating a role that she was asked to fill midyear. Appearing in 18 games for USA, she started in 15 of them while recording 1411 minutes - second only to Alex Morgan who has 1500.
In 2019 there will no longer be a question of ‘who is the left back?’ The question has evolved into ‘who is the depth for Dunn?’ - as she can fulfill a number of needs for the National Team - and is their most versatile player to date.
2.) Megan Rapinoe
After comeback season due to an ACL tear, Megan Rapinoe built on her 2017 with an equally stellar 2018.
Dominating the National Team’s top line with Alex Morgan, Rapinoe provided assists, goals, and creativity for team USA. Whether it was thrilling fans with a goal in Columbus, Ohio during SheBelieves, or one of the seven goals she’s assisted Morgan on, Rapinoe’s form in 2018 was force to be reckoned with for opposing teams.
Never a player to just stick to soccer, Rapinoe partnered with U.S. Soccer to help raise funds for the Carr Community fund. Now a veteran player of the National Team, she is leading both on and off the pitch when it comes to being an example.
As the National Team dominated on the international level, Rapinoe made another comeback in NWSL. She helped her club team, Seattle Reign, make their return to the NWSL semifinals after being shut out of the playoffs for the last two seasons. Her seven goals and six assists earned her a spot on the NWSL best XI.
Make sure to check out who ranked #1 tomorrow!