Yesterday, the National Women's Soccer League announce this season's finalists for the end of season awards. The awards consist of Most Valuable Player, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year. Voting is open for owners, general managers, head coaches, players, media and fans until Friday, October 6 at 5 PM Eastern Time for all of the individual awards listed as well as Best XI.
Most Valuable Player
Three of the four playoff-bound teams find a player nominated for MVP this season. The Chicago Red Stars, Orlando Pride, North Carolina Courage, Sky Blue FC, and Seattle Reign all find a player on this least. Most obvious is Sky Blue FC's Sam Kerr, who earlier this week won the 2017 Golden Boot award wit her record-breaking 17 goals on the season and two hat tricks on the year. Marta - arguably the biggest signing of 2017 - is also no surprise, with her 13 goals and six assists, helping the Pride make their first playoff appearance since joining the NWSL.
Christen Press continues to be a leader for the Chicago Red Stars, with her personal best 11 goals on the season. Four of her goals came from the penalty spot as she led Chicago to yet another playoff run for the 2017 season. The Courage's ever-consisten midfielder Sam Mewis finds herself nominated, with six goals and three assists. She was crucial to the Courage, winning 79% of her tackles this season. Rounding out the list is Megan Rapinoe, who scored an impressive 12 goals in 18 games, scoring on six of the nine other NWSL teams.
Defender of the Year
Three out of four playoff teams have at least one player nominated in this category, as well as FC Kansas City. The Pride have two defenders nominated in Steph Catley and Ali Krieger. Catley showed her versatility on both sides of the ball, attacking down the flank as an outside back. She led the Pride in 75 crosses this season, earning two assists. Krieger played every single minute on the season - the only player on the Pride to do so. The natural right back started all but five games at center back this season, anchoring down the Pride's backline and also added two assists on the season.
The Courage's Abby Dahlkemper has had quite the year, both in the NWSL and with the USWNT. Like Krieger, Dahlkemper played every single minute of the season, and it is her second consecutive season in doing so. She holds an NWSL reocrd of 5,580 consecutive minutes, or 62 games. She earned two assists and helped the Courage earn 12 shutouts this season. Kansas City's Becky Sauerbrunn has been the most consistent defender in the league through the past five years, adding an offensive threat to her play with one goal and two assists for the 2017 season. Lastly, the Red Stars' Casey Short has put on a spectacular performance in 2017, with a goal and assist for the season as a defender. She also helped Chicago earn a goals against average of 1.25.
Goalkeeper of the Year
All three nominees for this category will all be seeing action this weekend in the playoffs. Portland Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch led the league in save percentage with 80%, 11 shutouts, and allowing the fewest goals with 20. She made 80 saves on the season with an 0.83 goals-against average. Alyssa Naeher had another solid season in goal for the Red Stars. She record six shutouts despite facing the second-most shots in the league. She has a goals against average of 1.14, conceding only 25 goals this season. Rounding out the finalists is Katelyn Rowland, who helped the Courage make it all the way to first place after claiming the starting position this season. She posted a total of eight shutouts on the season, making 16 sarts with a 0.75 goals against average.
Rookie of the Year
This year's rookies all put on impressive performances, but only three have made it to the final round of voting. First up is USWNT player Mallory Pugh, who joined the NWSL midway through season after leaving UCLA to pursue a professional career with the Washington Spirit. The youngster led her club team with six goals in only 16 appearances for her rookie season.
The Courage's second overall draft pick Ashley Hatch became a key part of their attack this season. She made 13 starts in 22 appearances for the first place club, scoring seven goals and tallying one assist. Her seven goals are second on the Courage to 2016 NWSL Golden Boot winner Lynn Williams and she's tied in the league for most goals by a rookie.
Coming in and taking over the starting spot in goal for the Houston Dash, Jane Campbell has turned many heads this season. She finished her rookie season with a club high of three clean sheets in 16 games. She made 65 saves on the season, the highest for the club since 2014 when Erin McLeod made 83 for Houston. She was also a key part of Houston's six-game unbeaten streak this year.
Coach of the Year
No surprises as all three nominees are coaching playoff-bound teams. Chicago Red Stars' Rory Dames is the only NWSL coach to earn 30 or more points in every NWSL season. He is also the only coach in this year's playoffs to have been with his club since the very beginning in 2013. This is Dames' third consecutive playoff run, making him one of three coaches to make at least three straight playoff appearances.
Paul Riley has once again brought his team to an incredible playoff run, making his second consecutive playoffs with the Courage (previously the Flash). Five of his players have been with the USWNT in the past year alone, and his success continues as he helps each of his players grow.
Orlando Pride's Tom Sermanni has truly turned his team around. The team that finished in ninth place last season is now in this year's playoffs. Sermanni's team might be the deepest in the league, with 45 goals scored by 11 players.