Welcome to the very 1st edition of the #ORP100, the Top 100 Women’s Footballers of 2016. From Monday 12th December to Friday 23rd December, we’ll be counting down from 100 to 1 – voted for by our esteemed panel of judges who have been busy putting together their individual lists over the past month.
See a full list of the 30 experts who voted and how the voting works here:
In the sixth piece after a short weekend break, we take a look at two breakout USWNT stars, a Scottish rock in the FA WSL and three Matilda’s who had a top year…
As a teenager Lieke Martens was one of the most talked about youngsters on the planet and she enhanced that reputation with a superb goal for her country at the 2015 World Cup. Her domestic form earned her a big move to Swedish giants FC Rosengard for 2016 and she ended her first season there with 12 Damallsvenskan goals, just one behind the great Marta. Martens will surely play a big role at her home Euro’s in 2017.
After a difficult season with Birmingham City, Carney was revitalised after joining champions Chelsea at the end of 2015. After Emma Hayes described her as ‘world class’, Carney didn’t do much to dispel that opinion with some sublime performances in the first half of the season. Carney was also among the goals for England and was an ever present in an attack that could change at any moment under Mark Sampson.
Undoubtedly one of the most talented youngsters in world football, Mal Pugh’s year just got better and better and there were even rumours she could be put forward for the NWSL Draft. Pugh made her international debut against Ireland and became the 19th player to score on her USA debut and went on to assist big goals during Olympic qualifying and the SheBelieves Cup. Pugh also scored at the Olympics themselves against Colombia and it won’t be long until we see her in the NWSL.
Jennifer Beattie quite literally didn’t lose a league game in 2016. She spent the off-season with Melbourne City where she won 12 games out of 12 before returning to Manchester City for an unbeaten 2016 FA WSL campaign. Injury restricted her games in the first half of the year but she returned to strike up a solid partnership with Steph Houghton and on the international scene Beattie qualified for the Euro’s for the first time with Scotland. A top year all round!
It’s been another staggering year for Iceland and their players on the international scene, following on from the men’s side in qualifying for Euro 2017. Gunnarsdottir has become a key member of the national side and earned herself a move to German side Wolfsburg after impressing with FC Rosengard with Sweden. With Wolfsburg still in the Champions League, it could be a very good 2017 and one which will mean we saw a lot more of Gunnarsdottir.
Whilst it feels like the ever dependable Julie Johnston has been around for a long time, the talented centre back is still just 24 and yet to even reach her peak in the game. Part of a solid Chicago Red Stars team, Johnston has well and truly earned her regular place alongside Becky Sauerbrunn in the USA team and even popped with a couple of goals as her country qualified for the summer’s Olympic games.
Caitlin Foord burst on to the scene in 2011 when she went to the World Cup as a 16-year-old and six years on she’s still one of the most talented players in the world. The forward has split her time between spells in the NWSL and back home in Australia and has continued to be a key part of Australia’s team, helped by her ability to play a number of positions from striker to right back. Foord scored against eventual winners Germany at the summer’s Olympic games.
2016 certainly wasn’t a bad year for Aussie No.1 Lydia Williams. 2016 started with a move to Randy Waldrum’s Houston Dash before played in the W-League with Canberra United. Williams was regularly in top form for her club and also impressed at the 2016 Olympics as Australia tried to emulate their efforts of the 2015 World Cup a year earlier. Sadly, Australia missed the opportunity to face Sweden when they went out to Brazil on penalties—saving a single penalty from Marta.
24-year-old Kealia Ohai was one of the success stories in a turbulent year for the 2015 world champions. Ohai thrived in a struggling Houston Dash side, scoring 11 goals and outshining Ballon d’Or winner Carli Lloyd in the process. Ohai struck up a good understanding with new recruit Rachel Daly and got her rewards with a call up to the USA squad, Ohai would go on to score just 48 seconds into her debut and it certainly won’t be her last strike for her country.
Whilst always one of the more understated Australian internationals, Kellond-Knight did more than enough to be included in the 2015 World Cup team of the tournament and has continued her good form into 2016. Dictating games from midfield, Kellond-Knight was once again excellent for both her club and country in 2016 and Turbine Potsdam are currently the closest challengers to Bayern Munich, usurping both Wolfsburg and FFC Frankfurt in the Bundesliga table.