If you’re wondering which players to watch in Saturday’s NWSL Championship match between the Portland Thorns and Kansas City Current, look no further than the NWSL Best XI for the 2022 season.
The league on Tuesday released its list of the top 11 players this year, including Thorns forward Sophia Smith and midfielder Sam Coffey as well as Current forward Lo’eau LaBonta. The results are based on a voting scale involving players (50%), owners, GMs and coaches (20%), media (20%) and fans (10%).
Smith is among the five NWSL MVP candidates after finishing second in the Golden Boot race with 14 goals, a career best and a single-season record for Portland. Coffey, a Rookie of the Year nominee, boasted an 83 percent pass rating.
For the Current, LaBonta broke out this season with seven goals — and standout celebrations, even compared to those from the rest of the self-proclaimed Celly Team.
THE CELLY TEAM STRIKES AGAIN 💃 pic.twitter.com/TqU2hpYBiq— KC Current (@thekccurrent) October 16, 2022
THE CELLY TEAM STRIKES AGAIN 💃 pic.twitter.com/TqU2hpYBiq
Kansas City goalkeeper AD Franch and defender Hailie Mace feature on the Best XI Second Team, as do Thorns defenders Kelli Hubly and Becky Sauerbrunn.
The San Diego Wave lead all teams with three players on the Best XI First Team, including: forward Alex Morgan, Golden Boot winner and MVP candidate; Kailen Sheridan, Goalkeeper of the Year candidate; and Naomi Girma, nominee for MVP, Rookie of the Year and Defender of the Year.
OL Reign, who claimed the NWSL Shield but lost in the semifinals to the Current, boast the most players across the First and Second Teams with five. Defenders Alana Cook and Sofia Huerta made the First Team, while midfielders Jess Fishlock and Rose Lavelle and forward Megan Rapinoe made the Second Team.
Five NWSL clubs — Gotham FC, the Washington Spirit, the Orlando Pride, Racing Louisville and Angel City FC — do not have any representatives on the Best XI squads.
The 2022 @mastercard Best XI teams are on another LEVEL 😱— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) October 25, 2022
The 2022 @mastercard Best XI teams are on another LEVEL 😱