Today is the Annual Futile Appeal for Defenders Day (sigh). FIFA announced on Thursday its shortlist for the women’s Ballon d’Or (player of the year) and four of the 10 players are U.S. internationals.
Americans Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe made the list. They are joined by Aya Miyama, Homare Sawa and goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto of Japan. France’s Camille Abily, Canada’s Christine Sinclair and Brazil’s Marta round-out the list.
So, yet again, defenders have been snubbed from the list. Sure, we all appreciate goal-scoring and flashy play. All 10 of the aforementioned players are world-class, but how are there no defenders on this list, yet again? Even in a year when England’s Steph Houghton proves to be the prototype of attacking outside backs, striking wonder goals on set pieces and defending well.
And the world’s top goalkeeper, Hope Solo, is off the list. Fukumoto is the only goalkeeper of the 10 on the shortlist. Solo was called upon more at the 2011 World Cup than she was at the 2012 Olympics, but to have Fukumoto on the list and not Solo is wrong.
In an ideal world, both goalkeepers make the cut, along with a balanced variety of a couple defenders and then fill out the list with attacking players. But that will always be a dream with FIFA picking these lists. Here is my case for defender Steph Houghton being included in the list (I did, after all, promise some thoughts on outside backs this week).
Sinclair, Morgan and Wambach are the likely frontrunners. With the U.S. winning the Olympic gold medal and the American forward duo posting out of this world numbers, I’d be surprised not to see Morgan or Wambach win this. The winner will be announced at a gala on Jan. 7.
The list for World Coach of the Year was also revealed:
Bruno Bini (France national team)
John Herdman (Canada national team)
Patrice Lair (Olympique Lyonnais of France)
Maren Meinert (Germany U-20 national team)
Silvia Neid (Germany national team)
Hope Powell (England national team)
Norio Sasaki (Japan national team)
Pia Sundhage (USA national team)
Steve Swanson (USA U-20 national team)
Hiroshi Yoshida (Japan U-20/U-17 national teams)
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