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 seventh piece after a short weekend break, we take a look at two members of Manchester City’s unbeaten team plus a couple more breakout North American stars…
Is there anybody in women’s football who had a crazier year than Hope Solo? Unlikely. At 35, time is ticking on the legendary goalkeeper’s career and 2016 started so well, Solo picked up her 100th clean sheet in a US shirt and also picked up her 200th cap vs France. She kept five quick fire clean sheets for Seattle Reign before her season ended prematurely after US Soccer suspended her for comments about Sweden’s football after the US were eliminated from the 2016 Olympics.
Yuki Nagasato was one player who FFC Frankfurt could count on in 2016, whilst the former champions couldn’t quite hit the heights of their rivals Bayern and Wolfsburg, Nagasato’s quality up front continued to show despite disappointment internationally. Nagasato missed out on a shot at Olympic gold as the world champions failed to qualify for Rio but the striker did score in a re-match of the 2015 World Cup final when Japan faced USA earlier in 2016.
Despite representing her country at their home World Cup 18 months ago, 21-year-old Buchanan is still playing university football for the time being. But what a year she’s had, West Virginia made the college cup final with Buchanan at the heart of their success and she continued to thrive for her country—representing John Herdman’s Canada and picking up a bronze medal at the Olympics. With the NWSL draft just around the corner, Buchanan is expected to be the first player picked when the selections get underway if she doesn’t join Lyon before then.
When you captain a side like Wolfsburg you’re always going to be involved in your fair share of big games. Whilst Wolfsburg lost out to Bayern Munich in the league and Lyon in the Champions League final, Fischer played a big part in Sweden’s march to the Olympic final. Fischer scored a penalty for Sweden in their semi-final with Brazil but had failed to replicate it weeks earlier when she missed against Lyon in the Champions League final. Despite that, another good year for the veteran defender.
The Red Stars had a much improved season in 2016, largely thanks to striker Press who scored eight goals doing the regular campaign. Press also had a solid year for the USA, scoring regularly throughout the year for her country and making herself a vital part of Jill Ellis’s squad. Whilst the Red Stars were left disappointed in their semi-final defeat to Washington Spirit, Press had scored the late goal that sent the tie to extra-time.
At 29, it’s amazing it took until 2016 for a player of Jill Scott’s talent to win her first FA WSL title, but what a key role she played in it when it came around. Using her strength and neat footwork to boss things from midfield, Scott also popped up at big moments for England through the year as well as playing a part in the goal which all but clinched the FA WSL title for City against Chelsea. Scott also had the honour of scoring City’s first ever Champions League against Zvezda Perm.
After an impressive four years with FFC Frankfurt, Laudehr returned to where it all started after agreeing a move to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Sadly for Laudehr, she suffered an ankle ligament injury in a feisty Olympics match against Zimbabwe and wasn’t involved in the rest of the tournament as her country won gold in Rio. Laudehr has though returned and is already flourishing in her new surroundings.
Scotland’s Jane Ross wasn’t exactly the big name everyone expected Manchester City to sign to cure the striker issue at the end of 2015 but then that’s rarely been Nick Cushing’s style. Ross flew out of the blocks with a big goal against Arsenal and her season just got better from there as goal after goal flew in on City’s way to the FA WSL title. She was overtaken for golden boot on the final day by Eni Aluko but that won’t tarnish her debut season.
By the high standards of someone worthy of the 2015 PFA Player of the Year award, Ji’s 2016 was probably a tad underwhelming compared to the year before. But at times she was still the controlling cog behind Chelsea’s stunning attack, occasionally popping up with key goals or passes as Emma Hayes’s side chased down Manchester City in the league. If she can get back to her brilliant best, she’ll be even higher on our list next year.
Linkopings and Sweden superstar was undoubtedly the breakthrough player of 2016. At just 20 years old, Blackstenius played a key role in her side’s Damallsvensan triumph, scoring 20 goals and forging an unstoppable partnership up top with Pernille Harder. Blackstenius continued to announce herself to the world with some impressive performances at the 2016 Olympics, culminating in her scoring just 12 minutes after coming on in the final against Germany. With the Euro’s on the horizon, we’ll see and hear a lot more from Blackstenius in 2017.