Sauerbrunn makes 4th straight NWSL Best XI

The Equalizer Staff October 7, 2016 90
Becky Sauerbrunn is on the Best XI again and is the only player to appear on all four. (Photo Copyright Clark Linehan for The Equalizer)

Becky Sauerbrunn is on the Best XI again and is the only player to appear on all four. (Photo Copyright Clark Linehan for The Equalizer)

Becky Sauerbrunn’s three-year reign as NWSL Defender of the Year ended earlier this week, but the FC Kansas City captain is now the sole player to have made every Best XI. She was joined on the squad by MVP Lynn Williams, Goalkeeper of the Year, Ashlyn Harris plus Lauren Barnes, who succeeded Sauerbrunn as the top defender. Jess Fishlock, the only player with Sauerbrunn to have been on the first three Best XIs, was named to the Second XI.

Barnes, Allie Long, and Christen Press were all named to their second consecutive Best XI. Joining Harris and Wililams as first-timers are defenders Arin Gilliland and Emily Menges; midfielder Tobin Heath; and strikers Jess McDonald and Kealia Ohai. Highlights of the Second XI include Christie Rampone who played every minute of the season during which she turned 41.

{RELATED: ‘Rocky’ Rodriguez wins Rookie of the Year | Parsons’s Shield season earns top coach honor}

The Best XI includes two midfielders and four forwards. Voting was split between goalkeeper, defender, and a midfield/forward mix which allowed for the unbalanced team. The Second XI is a 4-4-2.

The 2016 NWSL Best XI
GK: Ashlyn Harris, Orlando Pride
DEF: Lauren Barnes, Seattle Reign FC (2nd time)
DEF: Arin Gilliland, Chicago Red Stars
DEF: Emily Menges, Portland Thorns FC
DEF: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
MID: Tobin Heath, Portland Thorns FC
MID: Allie Long, Portland Thorns FC
FWD: Jess McDonald, Western New York Flash
FWD: Kealia Ohai, Houston Dash
FWD: Christen Press, Chicago Red Stars
FWD: Lynn Williams, Western New York Flash

{NWSL CHAMPIONSHIP: Williams gets call-up, MVP on same day | Lauletta’s Friday notebook}

Second XI
GK: Alyssa Naeher, Chicago Red Stars
DEF: Julie Johnston, Chicago Red Stars
DEF: Ali Krieger, Washington Spirit
DEF: Christie Rampone, Sky Blue FC
DEF: Casey Short, Chicago Red Stars
MID: Danielle Colaprico, Chicago Red Stars
MID: Vanessa DiBernardo, Chicago Red Stars
MID: Jess Fishlock, Seattle Reign FC
MID: Kim Little, Seattle Reign FC
FWD: Crystal Dunn, Washington Spirit
FWD: Shea Groom, FC Kansas City

  • X

    Chicago Red Stars should of done better 3rd place and semifinal loss. 7 players.

    • Steglitz49

      I only see 2 in the 1st XI and at least one is an iffy choice.

      The one of Chicago that should be in the 1st XI is in the 2nd.

      • Ethan

        Yeah, X means 7 players across both XIs. Most people on this site would probably agree with you and switch Short and Gilliland.

    • Guest

      Christen Press has do everything she has no talent around her- Hear this crap all the time. Looks like she has plenty time around her

      • newsouth

        i’m not buying this. they had a great draft a couple of years ago and played great defense, holding teams to pretty much 1:0 scores. the core is still there. i smell an incompetent coach. lori and the guardian are gone but the youthful core should have grown into a championship squad.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8kE6AxMa4o

        • DNG

          Their center backs are weak and Press has been their only consistent goal scorer. Huerta was their second best goal scorer but after her they don’t have a scorer with more than 2 for the year. Their midfield is good but not better than Seattle’s or Portland’s. It might not be better than the Spirit’s either. How much better do you actually think they are?

          • Lorehead

            I’d say their outside backs and Press are better than Portland or Washington’s players at the same position. Arguably Julie Johnston, too.

          • DNG

            Their outside backs are excellent better than Portland’s by a good margin in my estimation. A weak center of defense is still going to yield goals at in opportune times though. I don’t think Johnston is that good. I think she’s average maybe above average. Sonnett and Menges are a way better pair than Johnston and Johnson.

          • Lorehead

            Sonnett’s definitely better than any other team’s second CB, and Williamson their third.

          • DNG

            I think Sonnett is better than Johnston right now despite the couple of mistakes she’s made playing for Portland and her issues with occasionally loosing her mark.

          • kernel_thai

            If they wanted to make a statement about the best CB pair in the league it isnt by letting WNY stick four on them in a playoff game. That doesnt even include a bunch of great stops by Betos behind them.

          • DNG

            They definitely had a poor match but their ability isn’t defined by that one match. 3 of the goals came from not properly marking set pieces and poor clearances. Betos made some good stops but like I said in a comment immediately after the match I think she could have done better on a couple of the goals. The OBs were the Portland defenders who were repeatedly skinned all match long and allowed those dangerous crosses.

          • Arcie Tillydee

            Worst possible time for them to have their worst game of the year on the back line, to be sure…and yet still should have won that game…

          • Lorehead

            Two in regulation against the best offense in the league, at least one of which should, in my opinion, have been called off. They did do a bad job of defending long throw-ins.

      • NYRick

        You’re right. Throw in Huerta (who had a good season) and the late addition of McCaffery and that’s a lot of talent on one club team. The Lyon of the US.

        • Steglitz49

          Lyon wins stuff.

          • NYRick

            In their Mickey Mouse league.

          • DNG

            They have won champions league matches against some tough frauenbundesliga teams too. Wolfsburg is a very good team.

          • Steglitz49

            They have won the Champions League 3 times now and played in 2 more finals. They also won the inaugural intercontinental club competition that unfortunately petered out after 3 years.
            Not bad all things considered.

          • NYRick

            NWSL championship teams haven’t gotten a chance in CL play. I think they would more than hold their own and have a good shot at winning against the likes of those Euro over-stacked super teams like Lyon or Wolfsburg.

            My main comment was in response to your Lyon wins stuff being about in their ridiculous French league where they have such a superior roster that they were routinely beating the other teams 10-nil.

          • Steglitz49

            The American system with its college route is much to be preferred to the European club-based version. The girls get a university education, enjoy 4 years as a student and also play soccer.

            European WoSo has chosen to follow the male Capitalistic route and not the American Communistic way. A side-effect of that is that teams with money, usually male money, can acquire strong sides by paying top Euro.

            NT players in most European countries earn little extra for the NT duty. Most of their pay comes through their clubs. Thus, a generous contract from a club is gold worth.

        • Guest

          Not more talent than Houston, Seattle, Chicago, or even WAS.

  • Steglitz49

    Casey Short made the 1st XI of Toppserien when playing for Avaldsnes but in the NWSL she has to settle for the 2nd XI.

  • Lorehead

    Just like the Best XI voters to make Christen Press play winger. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you. A conspiracy.

    • Ethan

      I’d play Ohai and Williams wide.

      • kernel_thai

        Press played a lot of the season at CAM…Heath and Ohai r wide

        • Ethan

          Yeah, based on the NWSL season, you’re right. So, the Best XI is a 4-1-3-2 formation. I’m generally not that critical of Long’s play, but she’s certainly not a player I’d play as a lone holder.

          • kernel_thai

            Jill Ellis disagrees.

          • DNG

            She’s fine holding while in possession and Morgan Brian is always paying attention and tracking back so Long is never really alone. I think it would help Long and Brian out a lot if there was a 3rd midfield playing with them though.

  • Some Termanni

    The Second XI would probably beat the Best XI more often than not. Too bad we don’t have an all-star game.

    • MurderOnZidanesFloor

      I agree, although its mostly because the Best XI is really unbalanced, only two mids and one of those is a winger.

      • Steglitz49

        Is it correct to have any of that sorry excuse for a team that played in OG-16 in either the 1st or the 2nd XI? They could be dispatched to a Wooden Spoon XI.

        • MurderOnZidanesFloor

          At least Lloyd didn’t make it on the back of her 5 or so appearances!

      • DNG

        Switch one of Williams/Mcdonald/Press for Fishlock and let them play.

  • MurderOnZidanesFloor

    Sam Mewis snub much?

    • Guest

      And Kristen Edmonds. You could even consider Nairn and Lohman snuffed considering Fishlock and Little are on there

      • MurderOnZidanesFloor

        Great shout on Edmonds, she’s put in some terrific performances this season, if there was a most improved player award she’d get my vote.

  • Ethan

    That Best XI is what you would see in a FIFA video game match.

    • DNG

      I agree with you but they could always play Heath at holding mid with Long, Press and Mcdonald up top, with Ohai and Williams out wide in a 4-4-2. I really don’t like when 3 CBs are chosen though but Barnes has played some OB.

      • Ethan

        Right, but playing Heath and Long at holding mid is something I’d feel comfortable doing in a FIFA video game match but not in real life. (Then again, Brian and Holiday did well in the final two matches of the 2015 WWC.) I brought up the FIFA game just to illustrate the NWSL fitting in as many attacking players into the lineup as possible. There’s really no DM in the Best XI.

        Edit: Your formation though is how I’d play that Best XI in an actual match. I do believe kernel_thai’s formation with Press as the CAM and Heath and Ohai out wide is what the NWSL was thinking; however, I don’t like the idea of Long by herself as a DM.

        • DNG

          Long has been playing holding mid the entire year and done well. I hear your concerns about playing Heath there. I think she can play there but she certainly wasn’t selected to this best XI for her play there and it’s obviously not her best position. I’d want to try moving her inside again on the NT but not without a real DM.

        • DNG

          In response to your edit. I wouldn’t play that formation if you switched out Long for Fishlock. Leaving the center of the field that empty will just result in endless counter right up the gut

          • Arcie Tillydee

            I’ve seen teams do very well with a single pivot…but not in WoSo, to the best of my memory. It takes a Diego Chara type of d-mid to do that: absolutely nail-chewing tough and relentless, but also with excellent pace. Love Allie Long to death, but she doesn’t have that kind of pace. She’s become a terrific holding mid, but as a single pivot, I think she’d have a hard time covering enough ground.

          • Steglitz49

            Does any WoSo team play with a single pivot? I can’t think of one. Neither Germany nor Sweden did in Rio as I remember.

        • mockmook

          “I do believe kernel_thai’s formation with Press as the CAM and Heath and Ohai out wide is what the NWSL was thinking”

          What I gathered from the article is that the vote was for mids/fwds regardless how it fit together as a team.

          • kernel_thai

            From a picture of the XI in uniform it looks like the voters just liked red.

          • Steglitz49

            The NWSL is Communistic, so red seems appropriate.

  • kernel_thai

    Actually and accidentally works out as a 4-4-2 diamond

    ………………Williams….McDonald
    ………………………Press
    Ohai………………………………….Heath
    ………………………Long
    Barnes…Sauerbrunn..Menges..Gilliland
    ……………………….Harris

    • DNG

      I’d never play a diamond like that in a real match. There is just too much space for the DM to cover in the center of the pitch if Heath and Ohai stay wide. 4-2-4 or 4-4-2 with Heath as a holding mid would be more realistic. I really wish they didn’t choose 3 CFs for this award. 2 CFs 2 OMs and 2 CMs give the line up and XI some good balance.

      • Ethan

        The diamond in the second XI isn’t a bad one though.

        • DNG

          The diamond for the second XI would be an excellent formation for that lineup. I think the second XI team would beat the first XI team. My only concern would be defending the flanks out of the diamond since the first XI has a ridiculous amount of pace up front.

          • Steglitz49

            Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

      • kernel_thai

        Hehe and u probably wouldnt let the fans pick ur XI in a real match.

        • DNG

          Ha probably not.

      • mockmook

        It’s a screwy XI

        But if we must use it:

        http://drawformation.com/post/57f8ed6f089b8/sm-57f8ed6f089b8.png

  • kernel_thai

    Most surprised that Dunn beat out Nadim

    • Breakers fan

      Meaning that you think Nadim should have beaten her out or you thought that was who would have been chosen by the voters, regardless if it was right or not?

      • kernel_thai

        I trhought Nadim had a legitimate case for MVP consideration

        • Breakers fan

          Gotcha, thanks. I too felt she was very good in the games I saw her in – not that many.

          • kernel_thai

            and she was here for the Olympic break when it wasnt an all-star team.

    • Paul Klee

      I love Nadia Nadim I cheer her on at every opportunity. She had an outstanding season. That said even in her limited number of matches Christine Sinclair had a greater impact at forward for the Thorns winning the shield than Nadim. Sinclair simply is the best forward in the world right now. Sorry Marta, Morgan and Press fans.

      • Steglitz49

        A bit of an exaggeration. A number of players might take issue with that statement. Hegerberg, Miedema, Blackstenius, Däbritz and Popp for starters.

      • Arcie Tillydee

        Love her, too…but she _did_ have a pretty slow start to the season, with a ton of poor finishes on great opportunities to score. She got it together, to say the least. Sinclair? One of the best there will ever be, and still playing at world-class level.

  • Steglitz49

    In U17 WC, Venezuela playing with 10 ladies, beat Canada 2-0 and thereby advance as #2 in the group. Germany won the group.

    Next Mexico will play Venezuela while Spain face Germany in the knockout stage.

    • Lodovico Settembrini

      Good games. Looking forward to Brazil- England, US – Japan, Germany – Spain

      Gwinn of Germany and Castellanos of Venezuela are both impressive. Japan played wonderful soccer so far

      • Steglitz49

        England turned around against Brazil and won 2-1 through two penalties by Georgia Stanway. Georgia plays for Man City though she cut her teeth at Blackburn Rovers.

  • NYRick

    So CRS have 7 players from their 11 who make either first or second team NWSL Best XI and don’t win a championship? What’s that about?

    Also, wasn’t Portland supposed to be the super team that was over stacked with talent? They only got 3 players in either the first or second team. Wash. and WNY have 2 each and are playing for the title. I think the playoffs (first round anyway should be best 2 of 3 with the team with the better record getting the third game in their building, played in the same calendar week) and then a one-off game for the title on a neutral site.

    • Steglitz49

      You can have home and away legs as they do in the Champions League but you might as well stay with the single game format.

      In the FA Cup the semi-finals are traditionally played on neutral ground but the home ground of earlier rounds are all drawn out of the hat.

    • Arcie Tillydee

      A much better format, to be sure (and I’d best leave it at that). I think the league will move to something along those lines, and fairly soon. They have to abandon the “bare bones” approach at some point…

    • Lorehead

      Home-and-away wouldn’t be a bad system, and it would also give everyone a home playoff game, spreading the wealth a little. It would make the regular season less meaningful, but there is still a trophy for best regular-season record, and the cutoff for the last playoff spot has always come down to the wire.

      • Paul Klee

        Two legged total goal series for the semis would be great. I guess I’m okay with the final being a neutral site fixture I would like it better if they played the match on a Sunday and had a replay in case of a draw on the following Friday night. I realize that is a pipe dream though

        • Steglitz49

          Not that long ago the FA cup final was replayed if it ended in a draw aet. Now it is the pso that decides.

      • mockmook

        “there is still a trophy for best regular-season record”

        Can I see a picture of that trophy?

    • DNG

      If they had played 15 games I think Henry and Sinclair would have made it into the best XI.

  • NYRick

    No Lloyd? No Morgan? I guess jersey sales don’t matter in the NWSL.

    • Steglitz49

      Just look at the shortfall at the friendlies since the OG. Maybe the matches against the cuckoo-clocks can turn the time back or at least stem the tide.

    • newsouth

      lol

  • Guest

    What is Dunn doing on there? And what are Little and Fishlock doing there? Edmonds, Lohman, Nairn, Mewis are all much more deserving than both of them.

    • Ethan

      I can’t talk about the other players, but I honestly don’t mind Edmonds not being in either XI (although I can definitely understand a case being made for the second XI). She deserves a lot of credit for her goals and her work rate. However, her touches and her passes were inconsistent throughout the whole season, her chance creation wasn’t noteworthy from the run of play (great assist to Morgan against the Flash though), and I was more impressed by Weatherholt’s overall play in the last few matches.

      • kernel_thai

        If ur picking this team on touches and passes there would be a lot of changes.

        • Ethan

          I suppose. I’m just not as high on Edmonds as so many other people are, and I watched her all season. She was mainly played as an offensive player/player who dictates play during the season, and I just don’t think she provided offense/control of the game consistently enough to get the level of praise that she’s gotten. Tremendous finisher though.

          • DNG

            I tend to agree with your opinion on Edmonds but Sermanni had a lot of praise for her. I certainly didn’t think she was a great midfielder but there is something to be said for the fact that she still found ways of being productive. I don’t know if that will carry on to next year but given Orlando’s apparent scoring issues this year I think I’d take the 6 goals and accept the drawbacks if she can repeat her production. Orlando really needs to strengthen their midfield next year though.

          • Steglitz49

            What has Sermanni achieved?

            Were I Orlando, I might conclude that Gulati was right.

    • DNG

      Richard Farley mentioned in a tweet that he believes that players often vote for the best players instead of who had the best year. Little and Fishlock are both still two of the best players in the league even if they didn’t have their best year. There’s no player I’d rather have on the USWNT than someone who plays like 25 year old Fishlock. She’s a fantastic player.

      • mockmook

        “There’s no player I’d rather have on the USWNT than someone who plays like a 25 year old Fishlock.”

        Denise O’Sullivan — unfortunately, she’s also a foreigner.

        Lavelle has some of the attributes — but, not as high energy.

        • DNG

          Denise O’Sullivan was a lot better than I expected this year for the Dash. Credit to her for taking her opportunity and making the most of it. I really like Lavelle’s skill on the ball and think she’s going to be a good player. Not sure either are great representations of Fishlock though because of the aforementioned engine Jess has. Fishlock also has better passing range than both. Even as Fishlock has started to age I think she is probably the best B2B mid in the world. Fishlock missing 4 matches was probably key in keeping Seattle out of the playoffs. I think they only won 1 match out of 4 and lost twice.

      • Guest

        If it was just an award to give to the best players, then it could be given before the season if that was the case. The award is/should be who had the best season, which Little and Fishlock did not. If it was just “who are the best players”, then why would have to wait until the end of the season?

        • DNG

          I didn’t say that I agreed with it. I gave you a potential explanation from one of the media members. The players control 40 percent of the final vote for the best XIs. Fans got 20% of the final vote this year.