NWSL Best XI selections Crystal Dunn and Rachel Daly battle for the ball during the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
CHICAGO – There were many familiar names among National Women’s Soccer League Best XI, which was unveiled by the league Thursday afternoon.
Scoring champion Sam Kerr of the Chicago Red Stars was named to the first team as was North Carolina Courage forward Crystal Dunn, a Rockville Centre, N.Y. native.
Portland Thorns defender Emily Menges of Garden City, N.Y. also was selected to the squad, along with former St. John’s standout and Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly and Sky Blue FC midfielder Carli Lloyd.
NWSL Shield winners Courage and Portland led the way with four selections each to the squad followed by the Chicago Red Stars, Seattle Reign FC and Utah Royals FC with one member each on the team.
The Courage and Thorns FC will play for the NWSL crown at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET (Lifetime).
Five players were voted to the Best XI for the second consecutive year – highlighted by Utah Royals FC defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who earned her sixth successive selection to the squad. Kerr, Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper, Portland goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni were the other players to repeat as selections from the 2017 Best XI.
Three players earned their first selection to the Best XI this year including North Carolina defender Abby Erceg, Portland midfielder Lindsey Horan and defender Emily Sonnett.
Erceg was also one of three players – along with Horan and Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe – that made the leap to the Best XI after making the Second XI last season.
|Goalkeeper||Adrianna Franch||Portland Thorns FC||USA||1.00 GAA|
|Defender||Emily Sonnett||Portland Thorns FC||USA||1 goal, 1 assist|
|Defender||Becky Sauerbrunn||Utah Royals FC||USA||1,720 minutes|
|Defender||Abby Erceg||North Carolina Courage||NZL||2 goals, 2 assists|
|Defender||Abby Dahlkemper||North Carolina Courage||USA||1,710 minutes|
|Midfielder||Tobin Heath||Portland Thorns FC||USA||7 goals, 7 assists|
|Midfielder||Lindsey Horan||Portland Thorns FC||USA||13 goals, 2 assists|
|Midfielder||McCall Zerboni||North Carolina Courage||USA||3 goals, 1 assist|
|Forward||Crystal Dunn||North Carolina Courage||USA||8 goals, 5 assists|
|Forward||Sam Kerr||Chicago Red Stars||AUS||16 goals, 4 assists|
|Forward||Megan Rapinoe||Seattle Reign FC||USA||7 goals, 6 assists|
The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.
The NWSL Second XI is comprised of the next leading vote getters at each position that did not make the Best XI (listed by position):
|Goalkeeper||Lydia Williams||Seattle Reign FC||AUS||10 Clean Sheets|
|Defender||Merritt Mathias||North Carolina Courage||USA||3 goals, 2 assists|
|Defender||Julie Ertz||Chicago Red Stars||USA||1,126 minutes|
|Defender||Emily Menges||Portland Thorns FC||USA||1,305 minutes|
|Defender||Steph Catley||Seattle Reign FC||AUS||3 assists|
|Midfielder||Debinha||North Carolina Courage||BRA||8 goals, 2 assists|
|Midfielder||Carli Lloyd||Sky Blue FC||USA||4 goals, 1 assist|
|Midfielder||Christine Sinclair||Portland Thorns FC||CAN||9 goals, 6 assists|
|Forward||Lynn Williams||North Carolina Courage||USA||14 goals, 5 assists|
|Forward||Rachel Daly||Houston Dash||ENG||10 goals, 2 assists|
|Forward||Sofia Huerta||Houston Dash||USA||5 goals, 4 assists|