Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was named the 2013 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year on Monday just hours after announcing she had signed with Portland Thorns FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. She beat out the United States’ Abby Wambach – the 2012 winner – and Brazil’s Marta, who won the award five straight times from 2006-2010.
Among the 147 national team coaches, 146 captains and 88 media members, Angerer grabbed 612 points, while Wambach claimed 539 points and Marta earned 439 points. All the votes can be found here.
Angerer’s shining moments came at Euro 2013, most notably the final, where she saved two penalty kicks to preserve Germany’s 1-0 victory over Norway, clinching the title for Germany. Her performance at Euro 2013 was incredible. Saving two penalty kicks in a major tournament final? Legendary stuff.
But they were moments of brilliance in a full year – a full year in which the likes of Goeßling, Schelin and Wambach, among many others, stood out through most of the calendar.
I considered voting for Angerer at times, but with no disrespect to her, one point reverberated in my head: Is the No. 1 player in the world right now a 35-year-old goalkeeper? Surely not. Not with all the talent in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
I wrote in October, before being granted the U.S. media vote, that league play needed to be considered more when voting for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. Thus, I factored league play heavily in my vote:
1) Lena Goeßling (Germany/VfL Wolfsburg) – Named to the all-tournament team for Euro 2013, Goeßling was a lynchpin in Germany’s midfield but also excelled at the club level. She helped lead VfL Wolfsburg to a historic treble, completing it emphatically with a 1-0 win over Lyon team in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final, preventing the French side from claiming an unprecedented third straight title. Goeßling earned player of the match. She tallied four goals in league play last season and one in UEFA Champions League, but Goeßling’s best assets come in her playmaking ability and control of the midfield, like she did with Nadine Keßler in the final against Lyon.
2) Lotta Schelin (Sweden/Lyon) – Plain and simple, Schelin just scores. She does it for Sweden and she does it for Lyon. And while the argument that there are a lot of cupcake games in Feminine Division 1 is valid, Schelin scored in big games that counted last season. She had 24 goals in the 2012-13 season, scoring in big games against the rest of the top of the table: PSG, Juvisy and Montpellier. Schelin tallied in both legs of the Champions League quarterfinal against LdB Malmö and four goals in the two-leg semifinal against Juvisy. She was top scorer at Euro 2013 with five goals. The only thing that she can’t seem to do is ever make the final three for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, which is shocking.
3) Abby Wambach (USA/Western New York Flash) – Obviously Wambach broke the international goal scoring record and enters 2014 with 163 goals, a remarkable number. She did that in style, scoring four goals against South Korea to jump to 160, but that speaks more to a total body of work over her career. The reality is that the U.S. didn’t play a game that wasn’t a friendly (yes, even the Algarve Cup) in 2013. But Wambach was still a force with the red, white and blue and, even more impressively, with the Western New York Flash. At age 33, many have been expecting a dip in form from Wambach. But she registered 11 goals and eight assists in the inaugural NWSL season and looked as good as ever, carrying her side into the final, where the Flash lost to Portland.