Nadine Angerer

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Women’s Ballon d’Or nominees: Three USWNT players, West Virginia junior

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We now know the players and coaches nominated for the highest individual honors in women’s soccer, and there are plenty of connections to the 2015 World Cup champions.

Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd are nominees for World Player of the Year, while USWNT coach Jill Ellis is up for World Coach of the Year.

Seattle Reign boss Laura Harvey is also up for the latter honor, and will combat the coaches for Canada and England amongst others.

[ MORE: Giggs, Neville allow homeless to stay winter in hotel ]

Another candidate for POY is plying her trade in the American college game, as West Virginia junior Kadeisha Buchanan is up for the honor.

Surprisingly, World Cup semifinalist England did not have a player on the final list.

FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year nominees
U.S. — Lloyd, Rapinoe, Solo
France — Amandine Henry, Eugenie Le Sommer
Germany — Nadine Angerer, Celia Sasic
Japan — Aya Miyama
Canada — Kadeisha Buchanan
Switzerland — Ramona Bachmann

FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year nominees
Calle Barring – Sweden U-19
Colin Ball – FFC Frankfurt
Farid Benstiti – Paris Saint-Germain
Jill Ellis – USWNT
Laura Harvey – Seattle Reign
John Herdman – Canada
Gerard Precheur – Lyon
Mark Sampson – England
Norio Sasaki – Japan
Thomas Worle – Bayern Munich.

USWNT’s Lloyd, Johnston, Rapinoe shortlisted for Women’s World Cup Golden Ball; Solo for Golden Glove

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When Sunday’s final of the 2015 Women’s World Cup kicks off at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada, five of the 22 players suiting up for the US women’s national team and Japan will be finalists for the Golden Ball award at this summer’s tournament, as announced by FIFA on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s WWC news | USWNT ]

Similarly, two of the three finalists for the Golden Glove award, given to the tournament’s best goalkeeper as voted by the media, will be in goal as the pair of 2011 Women’s World Cup finalists do battle once again in the 2015 finale.

Candidates for Golden Ball

  • Saori Ariyoshi (Japan)
  • Lucy Bronze (England) 
  • Amandine Henry (France)
  • Julie Johnston (USA)
  • Carli Lloyd (USA)
  • Aya Miyama (Japan)
  • Megan Rapinoe (USA)
  • Celia Sasic (Germany)

Who three Americans and two Japanese on the shortlist for the Golden Ball, Sunday’s final between those two sides could very well determine the eventual winner of the award for the tournament’s best player.

A World Cup-winning goal could seal the award for any of three attackers (Lloyd, Miyama and Rapinoe), or a shutout and the game-winning goal coming from somewhere else in the team might just swings things in favor of the two defensive stalwarts (Ariyoshi and Johnston).

Candidates for Golden Glove

  • Nadine Angerer (Germany)
  • Ayumi Kaihori (Japan)
  • Hope Solo (USA)

Likewise, another shutout in the final — Kaihori has conceded three goals all tournament, while Solo has given up just one, including zero in the USWNT’s last 513 minutes played — will almost surely see either the Japanese or American shot-stopper take home the heaviest goalkeeper glove known to man.

Top goalkeepers Hope Solo, Nadine Angerer clash in USA-Germany semifinal

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MONTREAL – Among many odd, potentially lost-in-translation moments early in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Germany coach Silvia Neid was asked about United States goalkeeper Hope Solo and her off-field issues, including domestic-violence allegations.

“(Germany goalkeeper) Nadine Angerer is very focused on the games, not much of a party-goer like I hear Hope is,” Neid told reporters on June 7. “I have players who are extravagant, intelligent and do have a life outside of soccer. I don’t know what the case is for Hope Solo.”

Translations always need to be taken with a grain of salt, especially in a press conference setting, but the remarks are ironically relevant three weeks later.

Solo and Angerer are considered the two best goalkeepers in the world. On Tuesday night, Germany and the United States – the two top-ranked teams in the world – meet in the Women’s World Cup semifinals. Both goalkeepers are likely to be called upon to execute the type-of game-changing saves that they are known to make. But only one will board a plane to Vancouver for Sunday’s World Cup final, with the other joining her teammates on the disappointing flight to the isolated Edmonton, Alberta, for the third-place game.

[KASSOUF: U.S. coach Jill Ellis faces tough lineup decisions vs. Germany]

Solo and her U.S. back-four enter the match in the best defensive form in the tournament, having not conceded a goal in 423 consecutive minutes. But it’s been a quiet World Cup for Solo, literally and figuratively. She hasn’t been called into action much since the first 30 minutes of the opening match against Australia; Colombia and China took 84 minutes and 80 minutes, respectively, to even put a shot on goal that she had to save. And Solo hasn’t spoken to reporters since briefly after that Australia game on June 8, a day after new reports regarding her June 2014 arrest surfaced.

Tuesday figures to be much different – on the field, at least.

Solo won’t go through this game without being tested, no matter how impermeable the U.S. defense may seem. Germany leads all teams at the World Cup with 20 goals scored and 134 shots. Germany’s Celia Sasic leads the tournament with six goals and teammate Anja Mittag is tied for second with five goals.

And while all of those numbers are skewed by Germany’s paltry group opponents (Sasic and Mittag BOTH had hat tricks in a 10-0 win over Ivory Coast), the threat is real. Germany may have the best front six in the world, even without 2014 FIFA World Player of the Year Nadine Kessler, who missed the World Cup with a knee injury.

[MORE: USA’s Krieger ready to beat ‘best team in world,’ Germany]

So Solo will be called upon. U.S. coach Jill Ellis recently described Solo as having “laser focus” over the past few months since returning from suspension. Solo was banned from the team for 30 days in late January after her husband, former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens, was pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence while operating a U.S. Soccer team vehicle. Solo was in the passenger’s seat and acted “belligerent,” according to the police report. The incident occurred one week after Solo’s domestic-violence abuse charges were dismissed (prosecutors are in the process of filing an appeal).

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How active Angerer is on Tuesday night will be indicative of how productive a to-date tame United States attack will be. Seven goals on 70 shots across five matches has been underwhelming from a U.S. attack that got a whole lot of attention coming into this tournament.

U.S. forward Alex Morgan has one of those goals and plays with Angerer – who she calls “a gamer” – on Portland Thorns FC. (Angerer notably called Morgan “fragile” last year during the offseason, but all seems to have been smoothed over since.)

Angerer, the 2013 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, didn’t have much to say about Solo when asked on Monday.

“We are very different,” she said. “She is a very, very good goalkeeper. I am not interested in what she is doing privately. I focus on my game and she lives her own life.”

Solo was unavailable for comment.

Morgan describes Angerer as “a gamer” while noting that Solo is among the best, if not the best goalkeeper in the world. Angerer and Morgan both spoke about how they would sometimes have a shooting competition after Thorns practice and pretend it was the 90th minute of a World Cup final.

“That was always funny,” Angerer said. “But now it is the World Cup semifinal and it´s getting serious.”

Very serious, indeed.

As TurfGate issue persists at Women’s World Cup, Canadian columnist takes aim at Wambach’s complaints

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Former FIFA women’s world player of the year Nadine Angerer has lent her voice to the continued choir lamenting the artificial turf surfaces being used at the Women’s World Cup in Canada.

“It’s hard to reach the balls as you never know how they will bounce,” Angerer said. “Both teams have the same problem, but of course it affects the game.”

It’s one of those quotes that don’t serve the TurfGaters well. For one thing, you never know how a ball will bounce on grass either, and Angerer plays on FieldTurf — the surface used for World Cup — at her club (Portland Thorns).

[ MORE: FIFA rejected free grass fields ]

And it’s led Sportsnet writer Donnovan Bennett to type up a sprawling critique of those like Wambach still citing the turf. Bennett calls out Wambach’s character in regards to her comments that she’s “more carefree” on grass, and there’s something to it. If Wambach, who plays on turf a lot, is thinking about the turf during games, is she growing her own monster?

Bennett also points to Germany midfielder Melanie Behringer’s comments that, “We have demonstrated that you can score, so I don’t want to make this all about the turf. The ball acts differently, flies differently. But of course you can score.”

From Sportsnet.ca:

The gender issues we should be examining are why there was only one bid for the Women’s World Cup in the first place, while the last three men’s World Cups are so lucrative they are suspected to be the subjects of bribery scandals. The fact that only one country that was willing to take the women’s tournament on was up front about its plans of playing on turf is not a gender issue. It’s a supply and demand issue.

Field turf is a surface all North American players are accustomed to—the way turf plays isn’t a surprise for the U.S. women coming into this tournament. Stylistically the USA has looked to play long balls more than their opponents and the chief target woman has been Wambach. The turf has less bearing on their style of play. The U.S. also has considerable more top quality depth than most competing nations. A tournament of attrition plays to their strength. You could make an argument that they should be the last team to complain about the turf because it caters to their intrinsic advantages.

Put aside for a second the major issue of TurfGate: that a men’s World Cup won’t be played on artificial turf any time soon. Also put aside that FIFA made some horrific and archaic threats against some of the women’s players involved in a lawsuit regarding turf at the World Cup.

Digesting that there’s no question there are fundamental and unsavory issues here, and acknowledging the inequality, does Bennett make valid claims? And is Wambach, who said she would drop the issue before the tournament, hurting herself and perhaps the psyche of her team?

There will be plenty of time to rally against the turf issue as an ambassador for future World Cups, but nothing’s getting changed in the next three weeks. Wambach just scored a gorgeous half-volley off turf, so let’s hope she mentally build on that.

Nadine Angerer wins 2013 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, beating out Abby Wambach, Marta

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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.