30. Jess Fishlock – Melbourne City/Seattle Reign/Wales
At the tender age of 30, Jess Fishlock has shown little signs of slowing down, the diminutive Welsh midfielder as prominent as ever for both club and country. Like so many in NWSL, Fishlock divides her time between the American and Australian leagues, the two with opposing calendars meaning the Wales captain has little time away from football.
Starting the year in Melbourne, Fishlock continued to be a key figure in the City team that was defending their first title, the team off to a rocky start, Fishlock ended up taking over the coaching duties after Joe Montemurro departed. From there on out the midfielder steered the team to the W-League grand final which they went on to win.
2017 also saw Fishlock become the first ever Welsh centurion – male or female – the midfielder talismanic as ever on her return to Seattle, the team a little off the pace though Fishlock continued to star.
29. Ewa Pajor – VfL Wolfsburg/Poland
Whilst all the players on our list have excelled this year there are few who can claim that 2017 was their break-out year, Ewa Pajor is one of the few exceptions.
The 21-year-old Pole who was signed from Medyk Konin in 2015 was finally granted a real run in Wolfsburg’s first team this year, the long-term injury to Zsanett Jakabfi opening up a starting spot in Lower Saxony. Liberally used throughout the second half of the 2016-17 season, Pajor found her feet in the Wolfsburg side, hitting the back of the net fives times in the league, her winner in extra time against Freiburg enough to take WOB through to the DFB Pokal final.
With three goals in both the Frauen-Bundesliga and Pokal this season, Pajor is still chipping in with the goals for the German champions, her work in the final third invaluable for her side, her movement carving spaces open for her teammates.
28. Abby Dahlkemper – North Carolina Courage/USA
Abby Dahlkemper continued off in 2017 as she left off in 2016, being one of the best defenders in the NWSL. She helped her club team, the North Carolina Courage, make the NWSL Championship game again after finishing as the NWSL Shield winners this past season. Although the Courage ended up being the losers thanks to a solitary goal in that final, Dahlkemper's overall play cannot be overlooked.
With 26 appearances for her team, Dahlkemper was crowned the Defender of the Year and also made it onto the NWSL Best XI list as well. Her play shows a composed defender on the ball who also has great set piece ability and has the speed to keep up with most strikers. It's no wonder that her play also got her multiple call ups to the USWNT and once she got there, she became a mainstay in Jill Ellis' backline. Of her 13 total caps, Dahlkemper earned 11 of those this year and even though the USWNT did not have a great calendar year by her standards, it's clear that Dahlkemper is the defender of now and the future for the national team and barring any major issues, should be part of the World Cup roster.
27. Katarzyna Kiedrzynek – Paris Saint-Germain/Poland
Katarzyna Kiedrzynek has become a mainstay for Paris Saint-Germain since she joined the club in 2013. The Polish goalkeeper has put in impressive performances time and time again to help PSG in the Division 1 Feminine and the Champions League as well as for her country Poland. PSG finished a disappointing third last season but that was through no fault of Kiedrzynek. She has more than earned her place in our Top 100 this year where not as many goalkeepers were able to shine and stay consistent over the course of the calendar year. PSG have started this season much better and Kiedrzynek remains as influential as ever for her team.
26. Alex Morgan – Olympique Lyonnais/Orlando Pride/USA
Alex Morgan used 2017 as an opportunity to re-establish herself after a few years blighted by injury. Morgan spent the first part of 2017 playing for Olympique Lyonnais and helped the team to both domestic and continental glory. Morgan made 16 appearances for the French champions, scoring 12 goals and her time spent in Europe allowed Morgan to find her form again, something she carried over to the NWSL. With the Orlando Pride, Morgan made it to the NWSL playoffs, scoring nine goals in 13 appearances. Morgan also chipped in with four assists as the Pride made their first ever playoff appearance, thanks to in part her goal scoring exploits once she returned to the US.
For the USWNT, Morgan made 14 appearances and scored seven goals. Her club and international play led her to be crowned as the 2017 CONCACAF Player of the Year and although some may argue against that, no one can say that Morgan has not been one of the best forwards in the CONCACAF region this year. If 2017 is any indication, we're beginning to see the return of the striker that caused defenders all sorts of trouble back in 2012 and that is great news for anyone who supports the USWNT and the Orlando Pride.
25. Carolin Simon – SC Freiburg/Germany
Familiar to the Frauen-Bundesliga since joining Hamburger SV in 2010, Carolin Simon bounced between teams before finding some of her best form with Freiburg when she signed with the Sportclub for the 2016-17 season. Playing every second of her first year in Baden-Württemberg, Simon made herself indispensable for the team, her consistent work running the channels up and down the left a highlight of SCF’s solid season.
Simon’s eye-catching form even earned her a spot in the Germany team that travelled to the Euros this summer and has featured prominently since. Die Nationalelf have yet to concede a goal whilst Simon has been on the pitch.
24. Wendie Renard – Olympique Lyonnais/France
What can be said about Wendie Renard that has not been written already? The Olympique Lyonnais captain and stalwart was once again a pillar as her club went on to complete the treble, winning the Division 1 Feminine, the Champions League and the Coupe de France.
On the international stage, thing have not gone as well as she would have liked. France were knocked out by England in Euro 2017 and Renard lost her captaincy when the new coach, Corinne Diacre, came in. Renard has not allowed her woes on the international stage to hamper her form for her club and OL are seemingly on course to complete another treble as they lead the league once again going into the winter break.
23. Vivianne Miedema – Bayern Munich/Arsenal/Netherlands
Very much the poster girl for the European Championships going into the summer, Vivianne Miedema didn’t always appease her critics at home, her goals not coming until the knock-out phase of the tournament. With the focus diverted to Lieke Martens and Jackie Groenen, 21-year-old Miedema continued to work diligently on the pitch for the Oranje, her work often unnoticed, her typically Dutch space-creating runs what allowed the Dutch to cut forward as successfully as they did.
Potent as ever before the summer with Bayern Munich, racking up 26 goals in 31 apps in all competitions, Miedema more than proved her worth, her contribution invaluable as the Bavarians grabbed a Champions League spot at the very death of the 2016-17 season. Well-known as one of the most potent strikers in Europe, the summer saw the Dutch dynamo secure a move to WSL side Arsenal, the striker finding her feet in Borehamwood.
22. Ada Hegerberg – Olympique Lyonnais/Norway
2017 has rather paled in comparison to 2016 for Ada Hegerberg, the Norwegian wunderkind again marching to the treble with Lyon but by her own lofty standards the attacking maestro has come up a little short this year.
Forced to strike up a new attacking partnership with Alex Morgan, the 22-year-old struggled to find the perfect tempo when played in tandem with the American, her natural partnership with Eugénie Le Sommer shining through when they linked-up at other times.
Caught up in a dispute with the NFF, Hegerberg endured a frustrating summer with the Football Girls, her decision to step away from the national team ruffling more than a few feathers though as performances on the pitch would judge it appears to have been best for all involved. With a tangible weight off of her shoulders, Hegerberg is once more firing on all cylinders for Lyon, her love for the game evident every time she takes to the pitch in France.
21. Lina Magull – SC Freiburg/Germany
How, as a young German, do you ever break into and hold down a starting spot in the Wolfsburg senior team? This may have been a question Lina Magull found herself asking when she went out on loan to Freiburg ahead of the 2015-16 season, the enigmatic midfielder frequently left to gather moss on the WOB bench during her time at the AOK.
A player with an incredible amount of potential waiting to burst forth, the move south to Freiburg the thing to catalyse Magull’s career, seeing regular time on the pitch the attacker featured in 20 of SCF’s league games during her first loan spell. Back at Freiburg the following season, Magull started each of SCF’s 26 competitive matches, the midfielder having made herself indispensable for the Freiburgers, seemingly to be involved in all they did going forward. Lively as ever this term with six goals in nine league appearances, Magull looks set to be a player to remember for years to come, the Wolves possibly left to kick themselves for letting her go.