FIFA Women’s World Cup

Soccer star Carli Lloyd and coach Jill Ellis nominated for FIFA honors

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FIFA announced today that Carli Lloyd, the midfielder on the U.S. women’s national soccer team whose hat trick in the World Cup final helped the US win gold, was nominated for the Women’s World Player of the Year award.

The woman who coached the USWNT to a 5-2 World Cup victory over Japan, Jill Ellis, was nominated in the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football category.

Nominated alongside Lloyd are Japan’s Aya Miyama, a member of the silver-medal winning team at the London Olympics, and Germany’s Celia Sasic, a bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Both Lloyd and Miyama are expected to represent their countries again at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Sasic retired after the 2015 World Cup.

Only two American women have been named the FIFA World Player of the Year–Abby Wambach in 2012 (when Lloyd was also a semifinalist) and Mia Hamm in both 2001 and 2002.

Lloyd is already racking up a long list of honors in 2015. In addition to earning the Golden Ball Award at the World Cup, she’s nominated by Sports Illustrated for Sportsman of the Year and will be honored on December 2nd by the March of Dimes as their Sportswoman of the Year.

Ellis has been USWNT head coach since May 2014, but has a long Olympic history with the team. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics she was a scout, and then was assistant coach to Pia Sundhage at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She also served as the interim coach at the end of 2012 after Sundhage left to coach for Sweden, and again when Tom Sermanni was fired in April 2014. She is expected to be the head coach at the 2016 Games.

The other nominees for FIFA World Coach of the Year are England’s Mark Sampson and Japan’s Norio Sasak.

The awards are voted on by team captains, coaches and the media, and will be announced on January 11th. The Ballon d’Or winner will also be announced. The three finalists for the top honor on the men’s side are Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Will Abby Wambach play in Rio?

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Abby Wambach made it no secret that she wouldn’t be satisfied with her career unless it included a World Cup victory. After more than a decade on the national team and three near-misses–third place finishes in 2003 and 2007, and second place in 2011–Wambach finally hoisted the World Cup trophy last night after a 5-2 win over Japan.

So will Wambach retire? Or will she continue for another year and try to add a third Olympic gold medal to her trophy case?

Wambach isn’t ready to make her mind up. She told Yahoo News, “Right now, I’m gonna have to definitely re-evaluate in the coming weeks, the coming months. We’ve got the 10-game celebration tour that we’re gonna have a lot of fun with and we’ve got to qualify come January/February of next year for the Olympics.”

35-year-old Wambach acknowledged that she may not be able to perform on an Olympic level.

“We’ll see how my body feels, we’ll see what’s going on with some of the other players on the team,” she said. “It’s an 18-squad, so it’s a harder squad to make. And I just want to be happy and playing really good soccer.”

Wambach spent a good portion of the tournament on the bench and only played 11 minutes in the final game.

But she said she might not be ready to put away the Team USA uniform.

How do you not want to play for your country every time you possibly can?” Wambach said. “This is a tough one, to be able to go out on top. I don’t know. It’s tough.”

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Predicting U.S. Olympic women’s soccer roster based off World Cup

Abby Wambach
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It’s possible, arguably likely, that the entire 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team will be made up of 2015 Women’s World Cup players, in part because the Olympic roster maximum is 18 players, versus 23 for the World Cup.

Take a look at history. Women’s soccer debuted at the Olympics in 1996. In five Olympics, an average of 3.4 players per Games made the U.S. Olympic team after not being on the previous year’s World Cup team.

But that was when World Cup roster sizes were 20 or 21 players, making it tougher to pull off the World Cup-Olympic double.

Unsurprisingly, most of those Americans who made the Olympics after missing the World Cup were young.

Of the 17 combined players who made the Olympics after missing the previous year’s World Cup, 13 of them were age 23 or younger.

Two of the four outliers were Heather Mitts, who missed the 2003 and 2007 World Cup after injuries. One was 25-year-old goalie Kristin Luckenbill in 2004.

Excluding the injury-riddled Mitts, the only field player over age 23 to make the Olympics after missing the World Cup was Brandi Chastain, as a 27-year-old at Atlanta 1996 (and the only 23-year-old, Michelle French, was a late replacement for the retiring Michelle Akers less than one month before Sydney 2000).

In 2012, the U.S. Olympic team of 18 players included 17 players from the 2011 World Cup roster of 21. The single newcomer was forward Sydney Leroux, who would have been the youngest player on the 2011 World Cup team, had she made it.

This year, the last two cuts from the World Cup team were defenders Rachel Van Hollebeke, who turns 30 in August, and Crystal Dunn, who turns 23 in July.

In 2016, both Van Hollebeke and Dunn will be older than any field player who made a U.S. Olympic team after missing a World Cup team in good health since Chastain in 1996.

Perhaps the most intriguing Olympic hopeful not at the World Cup is Lindsey Horan, a 21-year-old recovering from microfracture surgery on one of her knees in the winter.

Horan turned professional after high school, skipping college to play in Europe, a decision that may have hindered her U.S. national team possibilities even before the knee surgery.

However, Horan plays forward, a stacked position. On the World Cup team is Abby Wambach, the 35-year-old who’s not committing to a run to Rio, plus Morgan, Leroux, Christen Press, three stars 26 and younger, and Amy Rodriguez.

In 2012, defender Christie Rampone became the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s soccer player ever at age 37, according to sports-reference, and the first four-time Olympian in program history. She’s on the U.S. World Cup roster but did not play in the 3-1 opening win over Australia on Monday.

Here’s the U.S. World Cup team and therefore the likeliest of U.S. Olympic hopefuls:

Goalkeepers: Hope Solo, Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher

Defenders: Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, Lori Chalupny, Whitney Engen, Kelley O’Hara

Midfielders: Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Shannon Boxx, Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Heather O’Reilly

Forwards: Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez

Abby Wambach on Rio Olympics: That’s a decision for next year