16. Megan Rapinoe
Bouncing back from a serious ACL injury is not easy, it’s even harder when you’re into your thirties, which all makes Megan Rapinoe’s rapid return to form this year incredible.
Always known as one of the best players in the US, Rapinoe came back this year and looked like she’d never been away. Whilst it was a season that ended in disappointment for Seattle Reign, Rapinoe was the third top scorer in the league with 12 goals in just 18 NWSL games.
Rapinoe was NWSL Player of the Month in July and voted in the NWSL Second Best XI at the end of the year and also took little time to get back into the groove with the USA.
Rapinoe scored the equaliser as USA fought back in the Tournament of Nations to beat Brazil and also scored the opener in the next game against rivals Japan. A return to form anyone would be proud of.
Jill Ellis, USA head coach says:
“Megan is a fantastic flank player who is equally adept at scoring and setting up her team mates. She has one of the best services from the flanks in the world and is always incredibly crafty and one of our most sophisticated players.”
Laura Harvey, former Seattle Reign manager says:
“People were doubting if Megan could still do it and she came back and proved to everyone that she could, and more. She had a tough 2016 with the rehab from her injury, but her form and her dedication to wanting to be better this year has been phenomenal. For me, she’s not just been one of our best performers, but up there with probably Sam Kerr as one of the most consistent performers in NWSL and across the world.
“Whenever Pinoe steps up on the field, I feel like things are going to happen. Whenever she gets the ball I feel we have a good chance of creating or scoring a goal, for me she’s one of the hardest players to ever play against. She’s great with both feet, her finishing is exceptional and without doubt she’s in the best form of her career, and I think she’s got more to give in 2018.”
Lydia Williams, Seattle Reign team mate says:
“Pinoe makes everything look effortless, she just kind of glides along the football field and makes it seem easy. She has a wicked shot that is unpredictable and I’ve been at the receiving end of more than once. She’s also a great human being.”
Jen Cooper, US women’s football writer says:
“Let’s just say that soccer fans witnessed a Rapinoe-ssance in 2017. Fully recovered from her ACL injury in late 2015, Rapinoe stepped into the void left by former Seattle Reign teammate Kim Little and left no doubt that she is still a force to be reckoned with.
In her first uninterrupted season with the Reign, she scored 12 goals (third best in NWSL) in just 18 games. She was an ice-cold four-for-four from the penalty spot. And for the national team, she slowly but steadily worked her way back into the starting lineup, finishing with three goals and five assists in fewer than 700 minutes. The USWNT should be thankful that not only her fitness has returned, but also her flair on the ball and creative attacking style.