Sam Kerr scored an NWSL record 18 goals this season. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Chicago Red Stars forward Sam Kerr was named the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player, the league announced Friday.

Kerr earned MVP honors for the second time in three years as the only player to win the award twice. She was named 2017 MVP while playing for Sky Blue FC. The award was voted on by the club officials, players, media and fans.

Kerr played 1,862 minutes over 21 games during a season that aw her spend part of the summer representing Australia the 2019 Women’s World Cup. She scored five goals in France. Her NWSL-record 18 goals this season were a key factor in helping the Red Stars (44 points) to a 14-8-2 record and second-place finish.

She scored her side’s lone goal in the 1-0 semifinal victory over Portland Thorns FC last weekend. The Red Stars appearance in Sunday’s championship match against the North Carolina Courage will be the team’s first NWSL final in franchise history.

NWSL president Amanda Duffy presented the award to Kerr at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts Friday alongside her teammates and coaches.

“I don’t do this by myself,” Kerr said at the press conference. “Eighteen goals doesn’t just come from one player so thank you to my teammates. I love playing for Chicago. I love the girls, I love the team, and they allow me to be the best player I can be. This is a huge team effort and this all really means nothing unless we win on Sunday. So let’s win the trophy girls.”

“We’re super excited for Sam,” Red Stars head coach Rory Dames said. “People see the football side of her and the social media presence of her, but they don’t actually get to experience a day-to-day with her. The energy that she brings and the positive attitude she brings is contagious. It’s pressed through the group. She’s worked hard to be able to do what she’s done this year. Came back after a difficult World Cup and had a great response. I think how much she cares about this group and the players and this city definitely shines through.”

Kerr’s 18 goals broke her record of 17 that she tallied for Sky Blue FC in 2017. Kerr averaged a goal every 102.7 minutes she was on the field this season and led the league with 53 shots on target.

The 26-year-old striker took mercy on no one, scoring against every other team in the league while tallying 15 goals with her right foot and three with her left. She ranked first in the league with a total of 80 shots (excluding blocked shots) and scored 16 goals inside the penalty box and two from outside. Her defensive tackles averaged an 85.7% success rate and she topped off the season with a 67.5% success pass rate on 560 total passes.

In 2019, Kerr was recognized as the player of the Wwek six times (Week 5, Week 6, Week 11, Week 14, Week 16) and earned goal of the week honors in Week 16 for her score against Utah Royals FC. She was also named player of the month twice this season, first in May after scoring four goals in three games and again in September for registering five goals and three assists in five games.

Her remarkable season also earned her the Golden Boot Award for the third consecutive year and Kerr became the first Australian to play 100 NWSL regular-season games. Kerr finished second in the MVP voting last year behind Portland’s Lindsey Horan.

Kerr is the league’s all-time leader in goals (77), is tied for first in assists (24) and has started 113 of 119 career games played.

Chicago Red Stars forward Yuki Nagasato finished second in the voting. North Carolina Courage forward Kristen Hamilton took third. North Carolina Courage midfielder Debinha was fourth and Courage forward Lynn Williams was fifth. All five MVP candidates will compete for the NWSL title Sunday.

MVP TOTAL OF FIRST PLACE VOTES
Kerr 64.8%
Nagasato 8.2%
Hamilton 8.5%
Debinha 12.1%
Williams 6.4%

The list of five finalists was decided after a preliminary round of voting by owners, general managers, coaches, players and media. The finalists were then voted on by fans, owners, general managers, coaches, players and media.

Voting Breakdown:
Preliminary Round: Owners/GMs/Coaches (25%), Media (25%) and Players (50%)
Final Round: Fans (20%), Owners/GMs/Coaches (20%), Media (20%) and Players (40%)

List of NWSL MVPs:
2013: Lauren Holiday, FC Kansas City
2014: Kim Little, Seattle Reign FC
2015: Crystal Dunn, Washington Spirit
2016: Lynn Williams, Western New York Flash
2017: Sam Kerr, Sky Blue FC
2018: Lindsey Horan, Portland Thorns FC
2019: Sam Kerr, Chicago Red Stars