We touch base on FIFA and CONCACAF awards, look at announced friendlies for the U.S. and Canadian national teams and review a few player moves from and to the NWSL.
Carli Lloyd Wins Her Second FIFA World Player of the Year Award
Somewhat surprisingly, U.S. national team midfielder Carli Lloyd won the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year for 2016, holding the title she first won in 2015 after leading the U.S. national team to the Women's World Cup title. In 2016 however, the Americans fell to Sweden on penalty kicks in the Rio Olympic Games quarterfinals, the first time that they had not made the final game in Olympic Games. Lloyd led the national team with 17 goals and 11 assists in 21 games in 2016, after scoring 18 goals in 2015. She also scored 5 goals and 3 assists in 7 games for the Houston Dash in the NWSL last season.
Brazil forward Marta, who has won the award five times and finished fourth at the Rio Olympics, and German midfielder Melanie Behringer, who won the Gold Medal and the Golden Boot in Rio, were finalists for the prestigious award.
Silvia Neid, the long-time coach of German's women's national team, was named 2016 FIFA Women's World Coach of the Year. Her country won the Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics—a first for Germany. The award was Neid's third after winning in 2013 and 2010. Neid won the FIFA title won over 2015 winner Jill Ellis of the U.S. and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, who won the crown while coaching the U.S. women to Olympic Gold in 2012.
For CONCACAF, American forward Alex Morgan (with Olympique Lyon on loan from Orlando Pride) was named Player of the Year. Morgan also won the title in 2013 and scored 4 goals in 15 games for Orlando and 17 for the national team. Fellow American internationals Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) and Crystal Dunn (Chelsea for 2017) were second and third respectively. Pride teammate and U.S. international goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris won the goalkeeper of the year title and Costa Rica's Amelia Valverde won Coach of the Year honors. CONCACAF honored the Canadian women's national team and head coach John Herdman for winning Bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
For the Best X1 in CONCACAF in 2016, six Americans were named to the squad, along with three Canadians and 2 Costa Ricans. No Mexicans were named—a sign of the turmoil that the team faced this year in failing to advance to the Olympic Game qualifiers semifinals and still without a national team coach.
CONCACAF 2016 Best XI Women's Players
Ashlyn Harris | United States; Orlando Pride (USA)
Ali Krieger | United States; Orlando Pride (USA)
Kadeisha Buchanan | Canada; West Virginia University (USA)
Becky Sauerbrunn | United States; FC Kansas City (USA)
Ashley Lawrence | Canada; West Virginia University (USA)
Gloriana Villalobos | Costa Rica; Deportivo Saprissa (CRC)
Carli Lloyd | United States; Houston Dash (USA)
Shirley Cruz | Costa Rica; Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Tobin Heath | United States; Portland Thorns FC (USA)
Alex Morgan | United States; Orlando Pride (USA) *(on loan with Olympique Lyon, FRA)
Christine Sinclair | Canada; Portland Thorns (USA)
Upcoming national team matches for the U.S. and Canada
U.S. Soccer will again host the She Believes Cup this year involving four of the world's top five ranked women's national teams, who will meet in three doubleheaders from March 1-7 held in MLS stadiums in Philadelphia, New York/New Jersey and Washington D.C. Germany, France and England again will play the host side. The USA is currently ranked first in the world, defending Olympic champion Germany is second, France is third and England is fifth. Last year, the U.S. defeated England and France by 1-0 scores and downed Germany, 2-1, in the last game to win the title. Germany finished second, England was third and France was fourth. #SheBelieves is a movement to inspire young girls and encourage them to accomplish their goals and dreams, athletic or otherwise.
The tournament format will be the same as last year as the four teams will each participate in three doubleheader events at three different venues over a seven-day period.
2017 SheBelieves Cup Schedule
Date Matches Stadium City Kickoff time (Eastern Time-U.S.) Mar. 1 England vs. France Talen Energy Stadium Chester, Pa. 4 p.m. ET Mar. 1 USA vs. Germany Talen Energy Stadium Chester, Pa. 7 p.m. ET Mar. 4 France vs. Germany Red Bull Arena Harrison, N.J. 2:15 p.m. ET Mar. 4 USA vs. England Red Bull Arena Harrison, N.J. 5 p.m. ET Mar. 7 Germany vs. England RFK Stadium Washington, D.C. 4 p.m. ET Mar. 7 USA vs. France RFK Stadium Washington, D.C. 7 p.m. ET
The winner of the tournament will be based on total points (three for a win, one for a tie), with the first tie-breaker being overall goal difference, followed by most total tournament goals scored, then head-to-head result and lastly, FIFA Ranking if necessary.
Canada had previously announced that they would play Mexico in Vancouver on February 4 and just announced this week that they will play Olympic Gold Medalist Germany in Erfurt, Germany on April 9. The two sides met twice at last summer's Olympic Games, with Canada winning the group stage game 2-1 but falling in the semifinal 2-0. The Vancouver game will be the last national team match for forward Melissa Tancredi (who played for St Louis Athletica in WPS and in Sweden with Pitea, Dalsjofors GoIF and KIF Orebro), who is retiring from national team play, as are Rhian Wilkinson (who played for years in Norway and with the Boston Breakers and Portland Thorns in the NWSL) and Marie-Eve Nault (who played briefly with St. Etienne in France in 2005 and most recently with KIF Orebro in Sweden).
Heather O'Reilly signs with Arsenal
Former U.S. National Team and FC Kansas City midfielder Heather O'Reilly has signed with Arsenal Ladies of the Football Association Women's Super League for the 2017 season. O'Reilly, a long time member of the U.S. Women's National Team with 47 goals and 55 assists in 231 international appearances, won the 2015 World Cup, 2002 U-19 World Cup and three Olympic Gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012). O'Reilly also won NCAA titles with the University of North Carolina Tarheels in 2003 and 2006 and league championships in WPS in 2009 with Sky Blue FC and in 2015 with FC Kansas City. O'Reilly explained the move: “This is a personal and professional opportunity that I could not pass up. I have always dreamed of playing in Europe, and Arsenal is a club that has a tradition of excellence that I think is really special. I am looking to help the Arsenal Ladies achieve their ambitions, while having a global experience in London, which I think will serve me in my career and life." O'Reilly will join former Seattle Reign and Scottish international Kim Little, who just left NWSL for the English league. Jodie Taylor left Portland Thorns after the 2015 season to join the Gunners.
Reign FC Sign Defender Rebekah Stott
Seattle Reign FC announced last week the signing of New Zealand international Rebekah Stott. Stott is currently with Melbourne City of the Australian Westfield W-League where she has been playing with Seattle Reign loanees Jessica Fishlock, Lauren Barnes, and Beverly Yanez. Stott won the W-League title with City last season. Reign head coach and general manager Laura Harvey—formerly with Arsenal in the FA's Super League—said: “Rebekah has experience playing in multiple positions, which is something that we need across the backline. Obviously she's now had a bit of a relationship with Lu
[Barnes] out in Australia so I think that will help her fit in real quick. Speaking to her she sounds like a fantastic character that will fit into our group really well." Stott previously played for the Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory of the W-League, and SC Sand in Germany.
Stott played in all three matches for New Zealand during the Fern's 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, starting every game and scoring one goal in the group stage. The 23-year-old has 42 caps and three international goals for New Zealand. She grew up in Australia and was capped at the youth level by the Matilda's, before opting at the full-level with her country of birth.
Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribalfootball. His latest book is Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey