Lauren Holiday has been named U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year. The award is well-deserved for the United States and FC Kansas City player, who was central to the American side all year and captured NWSL Championship Game MVP honors as her team won the league title.
Holiday beat out Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, Carli Lloyd and Christen Press for the award. The five were named finalists for the award before Holiday was given the silverware.
It's amazing to think that Holiday's best year came as an attacking midfielder and deep lying playmaker. She was a striker coming out of UCLA and featured there for several U.S. youth teams, but as a professional, she was slowly moved further down the pitch. She even spent some time on the wing, but she settled in at attacking midfield for FC Kansas City where she was brilliant.
Holiday was one of the NWSL's best players, finishing second on Kansas City with eight goals and added a team-high seven assists as they captured the No. 2 seed. In the playoffs, they went all the way to the final, where Holiday added two more assists in her team's 2-1 win.
Holiday didn't put up huge numbers for the national team, scoring just two goals with three assists in 2014, but she was put in an entirely new position by Jill Ellis and delivered. She became a deep lying playmaker, allowing Lloyd to get forward and springing attacks with brilliant passes that allowed the U.S. transition game to flourish.
Now, Holiday has been honored for her great play. If the U.S. is going to have a chance of winning the World Cup next year, they are going to need Holiday to be at her very best. In 2014, she was just that.