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Teams of the Year – Women’s Football

January 9, 2011

You’d be forgiven for thinking that football is completely a man’s game. So much of the football coverage available across the world focuses solely on one sex and rarely can be seen bothering with the ladies of the game.

Continuing our Teams of the Year series, we’re going to look at the women that have stood out in the female game over the last twelve months. The First Eleven presents the 2010 Women’s Team of the Year.

Goalkeeper: #1 Nicole Barnhart

As the goalkeeper for the all-conquering FC Gold Pride, it’s fair to say that Nicole Barnhart wasn’t as busy as some of her counterparts. The American stopper could simply stand back and watch her team-mates march towards regular season and play-off championships in the WPS but when she was called on, she did what she had to do and she did it very well. During the end of season awards, Barnhart was named the goalkeeper of the year and that will weigh in her favour as she tries to oust Hope Solo as the American number one before the World Cup in Germany.

Centre half: #2 Laura Georges

As the Olympique Lyonnais Féminin captain, Laura Georges was a big part of the French team’s march to the inaugural UEFA Women’s Champions League final. The French international, who is fast approaching 100 caps, lead her side with consistently strong performances as they wrapped up their fourth consecutive league title in June. So far this season Georges has seen her side conceded just one goal in 11 league games.

Centre half: #3 Ali Riley

Having stood out throughout her college soccer career for Stanford, it was of little surprise to anyone when New Zealander Ali Riley was drafted in the first round of the 2010 WPS draft by FC Gold Pride. The versatile wide player quickly established herself in the starting line-up of Gold Pride. She never allowed herself to forget her defensive responsibilities down the left flank of the pitch while also remaining an attacking threat with some precious crosses. She picked up the 2010 Rookie of the Year award and then capped off the year by signing with the Western New York Flash for the 2011 season.

Attacking midfielder: #4 Fatmire Bajramaj

Later this year, Germany will host the Women’s World Cup. The host nation will enter the tournament as the defending champions, keen to win their 3rd successive World Cup. Most eyes will be on Fatmire Bajramaj to fire her adopted nation towards that crown. Having fled Kosovo when she was just five, Fatmire has managed to grow through that turmoil. Earlier this year, she helped her 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam towards the first UEFA Women’s Champions League title as well as the Bundesliga title. As reward for her incredible form, Bajramaj is one of three women shortlisted for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year trophy.

Centre half: #5 Amy LePeilbet

2010 was another consistently strong year for Amy LePeibet. The American centre half was as composed and concentrated as usual for the Boston Breakers as they finished 2nd in the WPS regular season. Apart from FC Gold Pride, the Breakers had the best defence in the WPS and that was in no small part thanks to LePeibet. She was named the Defender of the Year for the 2nd successive season such was her brilliance at times.

Central midfielder: #6 Caroline Seger

Drafted by the expansion team Philadelphia Independence for the 2010 WPS season, Caroline Seger really enjoyed her first season in North America. Ever present for the Independence as they finished 3rd in the regular season and then reached the WPS final, Seger lived up to her billing having been the #1 pick in the International draft before the season. Her five assists were invaluable for her team even if they have seen fit to trade her in the post-season.

Striker: #7 Kelly Smith

When the original nomination list of ten was released for the 2010 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, there were a number of voices that called for Kelly Smith to finally win the trophy. The 32 year-old striker returned to America in 2009 after four successful years with Arsenal. Using the first year to settle in, 2010 was much stronger from the English forward. She scored at least one goal every other game and was a real highlight for the Boston Breakers as they finished just behind FC Gold Pride.

Central midfielder: #8 Camille Abily

The FC Gold Pride side that romped through the WPS has four or five players that could legitimately be named the Women’s Player of the Year. One of those players is French midfielder Camille Abily. A real coup for Gold Pride when they traded to get her in January, she quickly impressed with her skillful control and fluid passing. She played in 17 games for the Champions before agreeing a move back to France to join Lyon and prepare properly for the 2011 World Cup.

Striker: #9 Marta

Having scored 19 goals in the WPS for FC Gold Pride, 2010 looks like it will once again be Marta’s year. Having won the last four Women’s Player of the Year awards, it’s pretty likely that she will win her fifth title in a row tomorrow evening. She has once again been the woman in world football. Gold Pride won’t be in the WPS in 2011 which should see teams falling over themselves to snap her up.

Attacking midfielder: #10 Ji So-Yun

Having become the youngest ever scorer for South Korea in 2006, Ji So-Yun burst onto the world footballing scene this year with 8 goals at the under-20 Women’s World Cup. The attacking midfielder’s ability to keep the ball close when beating opponents and an eye for a goal should see her settling quickly with her first professional team, INAC Kobe Leonessa of Japan. Her nomination for the Player of the Year shows just how quickly her star has risen this year.

Striker: #11 Birgit Prinz

At 33, the World Cup later this year will probably be the last time Birgit Prinz features at a World Cup. The German legend has played over 200 times for Germany and is consistently one of the best strikers in the world. Unfortunately for the German, she is always stuck behind Marta in the polls for the Player of the Year trophies. Prinz had a strong 2010 with 1. FFC Frankfurt but may once again be the runner-up to her Brazilian nemesis.

2010 Women’s Football Team of the Year

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