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A Guide to FIFA’s Best Football Awards

HARRIET LANDER/GETTY IMAGES

On November 25th, FIFA announced the nominees for their annual Football Awards, which will take place on December 17th 2020. It will be the first awards held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The window to be considered is based on what was done between July 8th, 2019 to October 8th, 2020, which eliminates any performances from the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Below are the nominees for player of the year and a summary of their accomplishments.

 

THE BEST FIFA WOMEN’S PLAYER
1. Lucy Bronze – England – Olympique Lyonnais & Manchester City

Lucy Bronze won the UEFA Champions League with Lyon, helping the club win its fifth consecutive Champions League. Bronze also won the Division 1 Féminine league title and the Coupe de France with Lyon before returning to Manchester City, where she is now an integral part of their starting XI.


2. Delphine Cascarino – France – Olympique Lyonnais

Delphine Cascarino won the treble with Olympique Lyon — the Champions League, the Division 1 Féminine, and the Coupe de France. She was named Player of the Match in the Champions League Final, as she controlled the game by setting up the first two goals that Lyon scored.

3. Caroline Graham Hansen – Norway – Barcelona

Caroline Graham Hansen won two trophies with Barcelona, winning the Primera División and the very first edition of the Supercopa de España Femenina. Hansen also helped lead Barcelona to the semifinals of the Champions League and was included as part of UEFA’s Squad of the Season.


4. Pernille Harder – Denmark – VfL Wolfsburg & Chelsea

Pernille Harder led VfL Wolfsburg to the Champions League Final, and she won the UEFA Champions League Forward of the Season title due to her efforts throughout the competition. She won the Women’s Footballer of the Year in Germany after winning both the Frauen-Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal Frauen with Wolfsburg, serving as the team’s top scorer with 38 goals in 33 appearances. Harder joined Chelsea earlier this year after signing a contract for a world-record fee for a women’s player.

5. Jennifer Hermoso – Spain – Barcelona 

Jennifer Hermoso won the double with Barcelona in her first year at the club – the Primera División and the Supercopa de España Femenina. She was also the Primera División’s top goalscorer during the 2019/20 season, winning the award for the second consecutive year and for the fourth time in her career.


6. Ji So-yun – South Korea – Chelsea

Ji So-yun won two trophies with Chelsea, the FAWSL league title and the FA Women’s League Cup, bringing her tally to eight trophies won with the club since signing in 2014. Ji was also part of the PFA Team of the Year and was a finalist for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.

7. Sam Kerr – Australia – Chelsea 

Sam Kerr managed to win her third consecutive NWSL Golden Boot in her last season at Chicago Red Stars, with 18 goals scored, an NWSL record. She was also named the league’s Most Valuable Player. Her move to England saw her win the double with Chelsea in her first season at the club.

8. Saki Kumagai – Japan – Olympique Lyon

Saki Kumagai was a part of Olympique Lyon’s treble-winning team, winning the Division 1 Féminine, the Coupe de France, and the Champions League. Her efforts in the Champions League, including a goal in the final against VfL Wolfsburg, led her to be named to UEFA’s Squad of the Season. Her efforts at both the club and international level also saw her win the Asian Women’s Footballer of the Year in December 2019.

9. Dzsenifer Marozsán – Germany – Olympique Lyon

Dzsenifer Marozsán was also an integral part of Lyon’s treble-winning season. After the Champions League Final, she was awarded UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Season. She also won the 2020 Algarve Cup with Germany.

10. Vivianne Miedema – Netherlands – Arsenal

Vivianne Miedema has taken Arsenal to the next level with her goal-scoring prowess. Despite Arsenal only reaching the quarter-finals in the Champions League, Miedema finished as the competition’s top scorer with ten goals. She was also the FAWSL’s top goalscorer during the 2019/20 season with 16 goals. Miedema was integral in Arsenal’s 11-1 win against Bristol City in December 2019, which was the largest victory in the history of the league. During the match, Miedema was involved in ten of Arsenal’s 11 goals with six goals and four assists.

11. Wendie Renard – France – Olympique Lyon

Wendie Renard’s leadership in her central defender role was a massive part of why Olympique Lyon was able to win the treble, so much so that she was named the UEFA Champions League Defender of the Season. The three trophies Renard won this year with Lyon upped her total number of trophies won with the club to 33.


FIFA also shortlisted six goalkeepers for The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper award and seven coaches for The Best FIFA Women’s coach.

Three finalists from each category will be announced on December 11th, one week before the awards ceremony, with voting open to the public until December 9th.

Vote here.

Caitlin Clark stuns in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports. It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation and shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing him a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her best line of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns start NWSL season winless, in uncharted territory

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage and remaining winless through its first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before. Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 


She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, answers need to be had from head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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