US women’s national team forward Alex Morgan has been named to FIFPro’s World XI. She is the only American to make the XI this year out of the short list of 55 candidates.
Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden - Chelsea FC)
The XI is voted on by female footballers; according to FIFPro the voting for 2017 included over 4,100 female players.
The World XI fills a rather glaring gap in terms of women’s honors. Though a men’s World XI has become part of the FIFA Best awards, FIFPro did not have a women’s best XI until two years ago, when they published their first Women’s World XI based on 2015 performances.
Alex Morgan didn’t make that first list, but she did in 2016, and now she repeats in 2017 after having a very good year by anyone’s standards. It was always going to be hard for non-Europeans to break in to this list after the 2017 Euros (and in fact Lieke Martens, Lucy Bronze, and Wendie Renard received the most votes) but Morgan really seemed to get the pieces to click mentally and physically for 2017. She picked up a handful of goals for Lyon in France, then returned to the United States seemingly reinvigorated after a bit of a performance trough (by Alex Morgan standards) exacerbated by on-and-off injuries.
Morgan racked up nine goals and four assists in 13 games for the Orlando Pride and seven goals and two assists in 14 games for the United States - though she only started seven of those games, making it seven goals in 698 minutes, or just under a goal per 90.
No longer the wunderkind but now the assured veteran, Morgan’s game has definitely taken on some new dimensions over the years, making her a more complete and effective forward who can dominate space with a combination of finesse, movement, pace, and occasionally a shot of raw aggression. There were a couple of deserving American names that could have made it - Julie Ertz comes to mind - but if any American was going to elbow their way onto the list in a year guaranteed to be dominated by attention to European players, Morgan wasn’t a bad choice at all.