Thorns FC midfielders Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan were announced today as two of the five nominees for the 2018 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year award. They join Chicago Red Stars' Julie Ertz, Orlando Pride's Alex Morgan and Seattle Reign FC's Megan Rapinoe on the list.
Voting for the awards starts today and closes on Dec. 3, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The winners will be announced during the first week of December.
All five WNT nominees played significant roles for the Women’s National Team during a 2018 that saw the USA finish its 20-game schedule with an unbeaten 18-0-2 record. The five nominees were also impact players on the squad that qualified the USA for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Tobin Heath, Forward
The skillful and dynamic Heath was excellent for Portland Thorns FC in 2018, for whom she played 1,267 minutes over 17 games and scored seven goals with seven assists. Even though she missed a few games at the start of the campaign, she was still named to the NWSL Best XI. Heath didn’t return to the U.S. lineup until June 12 after completing her long recovery from injury, but she was on fire for the rest of the year, scoring seven goals with six assists in just 10 games over 657 minutes. She averaged a goal or an assist for every 50 minutes on the field in the latter part of the year and scored one of the most important goals of 2018 when she tallied against Brazil in the Tournament of Nations in Chicago. The goal made it 3-1, giving the USA the margin of goal difference it needed to win the title. In her return to the field on June 12, 2018 (she had last played for the USA on Sept. 19, 2017 against New Zealand), she came into the match in the 64th minute and scored the game-winner in the 75th. She also scored against Chile and had four goals in World Cup qualifying. She had several spectacular assists during the year, most notably against Brazil in the Tournament of Nations when her spectacular dribbling run and cross set up Julie Ertz to give the USA a 2-1 lead.
Lindsey Horan, Midfielder
Still just 24-years-old, Horan had one of the most successful years in her six-year professional career, helping lead Portland Thorns FC to the NWSL Championship Game and was named NWSL Most Valuable Player and to the NWSL Best XI. She scored 13 goals, which was third best in the league and also had two assists. She played every minute of all 22 regular games in which she appeared and was the fulcrum of a Thorns attack that scored 40 goals, second only to the champion North Carolina Courage. She also scored the game-winner in the 2-1 semifinal victory over rival Seattle Reign to send her team to the championship game, which it hosted. For the USA, Horan also raised her game in contributing greatly to the USA’s attacking rhythm and defense in the midfield, especially through her aerial abilities, while playing 1,298 minutes in 19 of the USA’s 20 games, 16 of which she started. She scored three goals with eight assists, which was second best on the team behind Megan Rapinoe. Her goals came against Mexico and T&T, as well as a dramatic late-game equalizer against Australia that kept the USA’s unbeaten year and its Tournament of Nations hopes alive. She led the USA in assists during World Cup qualifying with five. Horan is also a nominee for the first France Football Women's Ballon d'Or.
Three of the nominees have won the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year award before: Ertz won in 2017, Heath in 2016 and Morgan earned the honor in 2012. Ertz (neé Johnston), Heath, and Horan have previously won the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year award, with Heath winning in 2009, Ertz in 2012 and Horan in 2013.
Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards are collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who have earned a cap in 2018, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, National Women’s Soccer League head coaches for the WNT, select media members and former players and administrators. In addition, select college coaches vote for the WNT award.
The U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year has been awarded since 1985, when midfielder Sharon Remer (known then as Sharon McMurtry) earned the inaugural honor. Abby Wambach holds the record by winning the award six times. Mia Hamm won it five times.