Portland Thorns and United States forward Sophia Smith has been voted the 2022 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.
Smith, 22, won the award in a landslide, claiming 50.8% of the tabulated vote, easily outdistancing San Diego Wave forward Alex Morgan, who finished second with 18.4%.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
The award capped an outstanding season for Smith, who also won the NWSL MVP award with the Thorns — becoming the youngest player to do so — as well as the MVP of the NWSL final.
She was also the youngest player to lead the U.S. in scoring since 1993, and is just the fourth player to have won both the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, which she won in 2017, as well as the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, joining Tobin Heath, Julie Ertz and Lindsey Horan.
“Obviously this is surreal, and I’m super humbled,” Smith said. “It’s been a very exiting 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 surround by such amazing players, players that I have looked up to for so long, has pushed me to become a better player and person.”
Smith is the 19th different player to win the award its 38-year history. and is the youngest USWNT player to win the award since 22-year-old Mia Hamm in 1994. Smith scored 11 goals for the U.S. in 2022 and started a team-high 17 matches.
At club level, she scored 14 goals for the Thorns in the regular season and then scored in the NWSL title game to help lead Portland to its third league title.
“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,” U.S. Women’s national team manager Vlatko Andonovski said. “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.”
With 11 goals for the USWNT and 14 goals for the Thorns in 2022, Smith is the fourth player to score 10 or more goals for the USWNT and her NWSL club in a single year, joining Abby Wambach (2013), Sydney Leroux (2013) and Christen Press (2015).
While Smith won the award by a comfortable margin, the voting for U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year was much tighter, with the San Diego Wave’s Jaedyn Shaw prevailing after receiving 35.1% of the vote to edge out Alyssa Thompson who claimed 34.4%.
“It means everything to me to be a part of the list of players who have won this award, but it also tells me I have so much work to do to keep improving and growing,” Shaw said. “I just feel super honored and blessed and it’s an amazing way start to the year.
“I want to say thank you to everyone who voted for me and to all the national team coaches I’ve worked with since the under-14 level and to my coaches on the Wave. Thanks also to all my teammates who have pushed me and will continue to push me.
“All of this makes me even more excited to get going with this NWSL season and to get back into camps with the youth national teams. I’m just excited for what’s to come and I wouldn’t be where I am today without God’s grace and favor over my life.”
Shaw, who turned 18 last November, signed her first professional contract with the Wave on July 18. She scored 28 minutes into her professional debut, and went on to score in three of her first four professional matches. She also played in all three matches for the U.S. at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.
Votes for U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year and Young Female Player of the Year awards are collected from respective national team coaches, players who earned a cap in 2022, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, National Women’s Soccer League head coaches and select media members, administrators and college coaches. Fans were also able to take part in the voting, with their portion weighted at 15% of the total.