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Sophia Smith named U.S. Soccer Female Player of Year

Nov 10, 2022; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA; United States forward Sophia Smith (11) delivers a cross during the first half against Germany at DRV PNK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Sophia Smith’s standout 2022 campaign was recognized in a major way on Friday when the she was named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.

The 22-year-old Smith is the youngest winner since Hall of Fame member Mia Hamm, also 22, won in 1994.

Smith led the United States Women’s National Team in scoring with 11 goals in 17 matches in 2022.

Smith received 50.8 percent of the vote, easily outdistancing the legendary Alex Morgan, who received 18.4 percent in balloting.

Smith also won NWSL MVP honors in 2022 after leading the Portland Thorns to the title. She scored 14 regular-season goals and added another in the championship match.

“Obviously this is surreal, and I’m super humbled,” Smith said in a news release. “It’s been a very exciting year, and certainly there’s been some challenges, but just being able to grow and develop in the environments with the National Team and the Thorns, and being surrounded by such amazing players, players that I have looked up to for so long, has pushed me to become a better player and person.

“I’ve said many times, if you embrace these environments, you have no choice but to get better and grow, and that’s a testament to the players, coaches and all of the staff. I appreciate everyone holding me to such high standards day in and day out. This award wouldn’t be possible without all those people, and the best thing about it, is that it’s fun too. The journey is so much better when you are doing something so fun and something you love.”

The honor also boosts Smith’s status per the upcoming Women’s World Cup this summer in Australia and New Zealand.

“This was a big year for Sophia, and she deserves this recognition, but I’m just excited about where she can take her game from here,” USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski said in the news release.

“She is a special player with special qualities, but the best thing is that has the humbleness, work ethic and drive to keep developing all aspects of her game.

“As coaches, she’s a joy to work with because she’s always looking for that edge to become better and more productive. As a person, she’s a wonderful part of our team, a fantastic teammate and we’re looking forward to her having another great year in 2023.”

Smith will miss two USWNT matches in New Zealand later this month due to a foot injury. Veteran forward Megan Rapinoe (ankle) also won’t play.

Midfielder/forward Jaedyn Shaw was voted the Young Female Player of the Year. Shaw, who turned 18 in November, fared well in three matches in the under-20 Women’s World Cup and also played for the NWSL’s San Diego Wave, where one of her teammates was Morgan.

–Field Level Media