by TOM SLATER
For the second straight year, Carli Lloyd has picked up FIFA’s top individual award.
Monday afternoon, Lloyd was named 2016’s FIFA Women’s Player of the Year. Lloyd, the United States Women’s National Team co-captain, is just the fourth player in to win this award in consecutive years.
United States legend Mia Hamm won the award in 2001 and 2002, the first two years it was given out, while Birgit Prinz of Germany won in 2003, 2004 and 2005. That preceded a string of five consecutive awards won by Marta of Brazil from 2006-10.
America’s head coach Jill Ellis, who was named World Coach of the Year for Women’s Soccer for 2015, finished second in the voting this year behind Best FIFA Women’s Coach winner Silvia Neid of Germany. Neid retired from her post as head coach of the Germany Women’s National Team after leading her team to the Olympic gold medal in Brazil. Pia Sundhage of Sweden finished third.
Lloyd received her award at the Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, as the world’s governing body for soccer held its annual event. Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Portugal was named the Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year, and Italian Claudio Ranieri, who led Leicester City to its improbable English Premier League title, won the Best FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year award.
“I’m very honored to win this award again,” Lloyd said. “I play on the best team in the world and this award would not be possible without my extraordinary teammates, who are fantastic competitors. We push each other to be better every day. I want to thank Jill Ellis and the entire coaching staff for believing in me and helping me constantly evolve my game. Thank you to the people who voted for me and the fans for showing me such strong support throughout 2016. I want to also thank my husband Brian for the unconditional support he’s provided throughout this special year. I am looking forward to the start of 2017 and long term, towards qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.”
This marks the fifth time an American woman has been named FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, following Abby Wambach in 2012, Hamm in 2001 and 2002, and Lloyd in 2015 and 2016.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) January 9, 2017
Lloyd finished first in voting by coaches and captains of women’s national teams from around the world with 20.68 percent of the total votes, followed by Marta of Brazil with 16.60 percent and Melanie Behringer of Germany with 12.34 percent.
A 12-year veteran of the U.S. National Team, Lloyd, 34, currently has 232 caps, the seventh most in United States history, and tied for the country’s lead (with Alex Morgan) for goals scored in 2016, finding the net 17 times, including twice during the 2016 Olympics. She also led the team in assists with 11, her career high for a calendar year and had four goals and two assists during the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.
She currently has 96 career goals, just four from becoming the sixth player in U.S. history to score 100 or more international goals.
Ellis, Lloyd and the rest of the U.S. Women’s National Team kick off the 2017 campaign on January 13 as they begin a training camp at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, Calif. The USA will play its first matches of 2017 at the SheBelieves Cup in early March, as U.S. soccer hosts four of the top five teams in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings: the USA, Germany, France and England.