PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC midfielder Angela Salem was named to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Best XI First Team, presented by Mastercard for the 2021 season, it was announced today. Goalkeeper Bella Bixby, midfielder Lindsey Horan and defenders Meghan Klingenberg and Emily Menges were named to the NWSL Best XI Second Team.
Salem, 33, appeared in 23 games (21 starts), tallying two goals and one assist in the 2021 campaign. The Akron, Ohio native was a three-time NWSL Team of the Month selection (August, September, October) this year and a 2021 NWSL MVP finalist. Salem led Thorns FC in minutes played this season (1779) and ranked eighth in the league for chances created with 43.
Bixby, 25, made her NWSL regular season debut in 2021 and recorded 16 appearances (all starts). A 2021 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year finalist, Bixby posted a league-best 0.69 goals-against average and registered the second-most (9) shutouts in the league. The Milwaukie, Ore. native set a new league record for most consecutive shutout minutes (269) to begin a NWSL regular-season career, and was selected to the NWSL Team of the Month for July.
Horan, 27, recorded two goals and finished tied for the team lead in assists (3), making 14 appearances (all starts) for Thorns FC this season. The 2018 NWSL MVP has been selected to the Best XI twice (2018, 2019) and earned NWSL Second XI accolades for the second time (2017, 2021). The Golden, Colo., native led Portland in aerials won (47) this season, ranking fifth in the league.
Klingenberg, 33, received her second NWSL Second XI selection (2017, 2021) after playing in 22 matches (20 starts) during the 2021 season. The Pittsburgh, Pa., native earned NWSL Team of the Month honors in July and finished the season tied for the team lead with three assists. Klingenberg led the team in chances created (49), ranking fifth in the league.
Menges, 29, appeared in 21 matches (20 starts) for Thorns FC this season, and tallied her first career assist. The Garden City, N.Y. native helped anchor a backline that registered 13 shutouts during the campaign, setting a new club and league single-season record. A 2016 NWSL Best XI and three-time Second XI (2017, 2018, 2021) selection, Menges was a NWSL Defender of the Year finalist for the 2021 campaign.
2021 NWSL Best XI First Team (listed by position, alphabetically by last name): Goalkeeper: Kailen Sheridan, NJ/NY Gotham FC – Defenders: Alana Cook, OL Reign; Caprice Dydasco, NJ/NY Gotham FC; Sarah Gorden, Chicago Red Stars; Carson Pickett, North Carolina Courage – Midfielders and Forwards: Jessica Fishlock, OL Reign; Ashley Hatch, Washington Spirit; Margaret Purce, NJ/NY Gotham FC; Trinity Rodman, Washington Spirit; Angela Salem, Portland Thorns FC; Eugenie Le Sommer, OL Reign
2021 NWSL Best XI Second Team (listed by position, alphabetically by last name): Goalkeeper: Bella Bixby, Portland Thorns FC – Defenders: Emily Fox, Racing Louisville FC; Sofia Huerta, OL Reign; Meghan Klingenberg, Portland Thorns FC; Emily Menges, Portland Thorns FC – Midfielders and Forwards: Bethany Balcer, OL Reign; Rachel Daly, Houston Dash; Lindsey Horan, Portland Thorns FC; Sydney Leroux, Orlando Pride; Ifeoma Onumonu, NJ/NY Gotham FC; Mallory Pugh, Chicago Red Stars
The Best XI First Team and Best XI Second Team are based on a weighted voting scale comprised of players (50%), owners/GMs/coaches (20%), media (20%) and fans (10%).
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