Sophia Smith is looking to run it back as NWSL MVP, as the Portland Thorns star is nominated for the top individual award for the second straight season.
In 2022, Smith became the youngest MVP in the history of the league. The 23-year-old has built a solid case for the 2023 award, leading the league with 11 goals and winning the Golden Boot award. But the Portland Thorns forward also missed significant time due to the World Cup and a knee injury.
That opens the doors for other candidates, including San Diego Wave defender Naomi Girma. Another repeat MVP finalist, Girma won the Defender of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in 2022.
Another top candidate: North Carolina Courage star Kerolin, Just Women’s Sports‘ pick for the award. Kerolin, Girma and Smith are joined by Kansas City Current forward Debinha and Thorns midfielder Sam Coffey.
Girma also is nominated once again for the Defender of the Year award. But repeating could prove a challenge, as both Gotham FC captain Ali Krieger and Washington Spirit star Sam Staab have had outstanding defensive seasons. Kaleigh Kurtz and Sarah Gorden round out the nominees.
Alyssa Thompson, meanwhile, leads the Rookie of the Year candidates, having lived up to the hype as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NWSL draft.
She is joined by Messiah Bright of the Orlando Pride and Jenna Nighswonger of Gotham FC. Bright is Just Women’s Sports’ pick for Rookie of the Year after finishing with six goals on the season and proving wrong everyone who passed her over in the draft.
Both Angel City’s Becki Tweed and Gotham FC’s Juan Carolos Amorós challenge for Coach of the Year, as does San Diego Wave’s Casey Stoney – to no surprise.
The choice between Katie Lund of Racing Louisville, Jane Campbell of the Houston Dash and Kailen Sheridan of the San Diego Wave for Goalkeeper of the Year is a tough one, although Lund has had a solid year and is Just Women’s Sports’ pick. Sheridan is looking to repeat as winner.
NWSL fans can vote on the award winners via online ballot any time before 12 p.m. ET Friday. The NWSL uses a weighted voting formula — 40% from players, 25% from owners, general managers and coaches, 25% from media and 10% from fans.