69. Hayley Raso
At 22 and coming off the back of a loan spell with Canberra United during the NWSL off-season, Hayley Raso really announced herself to the USA with a string of impressive performances for Portland Thorns.
In the absence of Tobin Heath, Raso stepped up with six goals and three assists during the season as Portland marched towards the end of season play-offs.
Raso hit the third goal in a 4-1 demolition of Orlando Pride in the semi-finals and was part of the side that won the final against North Carolina Courage.
Alen Stajcic, Australia national team manager says:
“She’s definitely had a breakthrough year. She’s hard a really important year with Portland, scored goals and got a few assists. She’s carried a lot of that form over into our national team and added another dimension to our national team now. She’s had a really great year.”
Mark Parsons, Portland Thorns manager says:
“She either had an impact through assisting, pre-assisting or scoring on so many game winning goals throughout the season. She created two goals out of nothing at Seattle and again at Boston when she bundled through a few players and set up Christine Sinclair.
“Without Tobin, she was critical to our front line this year, she was a constant threat with her dribbling and her pace and she combined so well for us playing with her back to goal. Other teams spent so much time trying to deny her that space that it gave more space to other places. We wouldn’t have won the title this season without Hayley Raso and that’s a huge credit to her, she took her opportunity and it came through hard work.”
Lydia Williams, Australia team mate says:
“Hayley has great pace and is a dynamic forward. I’ve got to see her grow into someone who’s become a threat against any teams that she plays. She’s become versatile too, playing both defence and striker which is a great attribute to have.”
Elise Kellond-Knight, Australia team mate says:
“Raso is a lightening quick, exciting and unpredictable player. She is versatile where she can play both on the wing and at right back. At right back she can make forward runs from deep and her speed makes her hard to stop. She was a key contributor to success for both her club and country.”
Caitlin Foord, Australia team mate says:
“Hayley’s speed, power and work rate, combined with her versatility makes her a very valuable player to our team.”
Kieran Theivam, UK/US women’s football writer says:
“”Raso, Raso, Raso” as the Portland Thorns fans chant, which is an indication of the impact the Australian forward had on the team. She was voted Fans’ Player of the Year and had a particularly strong end to the year.