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Wambach, Morgan, Marta finalists for Ballon d’Or

This morning, the final three candidates for the FIFA Ballon d’Or were announced.  The three players fighting for one of the top honors in football are Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, and Marta.

Reaction was mixed.  Most expected either or both of America’s dynamic scoring duo to make it to the final shortlist considering the year the US Women’s National Team has had.  While Wambach might be considered the front-runner for the Ballon d’Or, Morgan’s 2012 hasn’t been too shabby either.  Wambach is a goal scoring machine, but Morgan’s versatility, scoring, assists, and decision making on the pitch could give her the final edge.  Having scored the overtime winner against Canada in the Olympics doesn’t hurt either.

On the other hand, Marta has been suffering through a mostly unremarkable year.  Even FIFA struggled to come up with a positive headline for their interview with her today, calling her 2012 “tough.”  Brazil’s exit in the semifinals against Japan in the Olympics was unsurprising based on their quality of play.  Marta’s only two goals in the tournament came at the expense of Cameroon.  Should her accomplishments at the club level with Tyreso be considered enough to name her as one of the top three players in the world on the international stage?

It’s hard to overlook the snub of Christine Sinclair by FIFA.  Many, including our own Jeff Kassouf, called her a favorite for the final three when the shortlist of ten was announced at the end of October.  Whatever the official reason, it’s hard to ignore the four game suspension and fine FIFA issued against Sinclair following Canada’s overtime loss in the Olympic semifinals and wonder how much of an influence that had over Sinclair’s chances.

Regardless of who the third spot ended up with, it’s unlikely that either Marta or Sinclair would have been able to topple one of the Americans in the voting taking place amongst journalists, national coaches and captains.

The winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or will be announced on January 7, 2013 as part of a televised ceremony.

The three finalists for FIFA’s Coach of the Year were also announced this morning and are Bruno Bini of France, Norio Sasaki of Japan, and Pia Sundhage, currently with Sweden.  Bini may prove an interesting choice as chatter has recently emerged from France about some of his methods.  An argument could be make for John Herdman of Canada, who took the bronze medal at the Olympics under his direction.

The Coach of the Year award will also be presented at the January 7 gala.

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