Women soccer players are finally starting to get the respect they deserve and it’s about to show in a major way in less than two weeks when the San Diego Wave FC host Angel City FC on September 17th, 2022. It’s going to be one for the record books, so you won’t want to miss it.
The Wave are an expansion team that are currently in the midst of their inaugural season in the NWSL. While they’ve played their games at Torero Stadium up to this point, they will soon move into their brand new stadium – called Snapdragon Stadium. Their home opener is vs. Angel City.
The team has already announced that they’ve sold more than 27,000 tickets for the home opener and are eyeing a potential sellout – more than 32,000 tickets. If all is true, then the San Diego Wave would break the NWSL record for single-game attendance – it was 25,218 people.
Who Are the Top Women Soccer Players in the NWSL?
Alex Morgan, one of the greatest women soccer players of all-time, is a member of the San Diego Wave and is currently leading the NWSL with 13 goals through 15 games. She signed with the Wave in late 2021 for a record $275,000 fee – they also gave up Angharad James.
“I think it’s a testament to women’s soccer in the U.S. and the NWSL, and the San Diego Wave and what we’re building here,” Morgan told ESPN. “It’s really hard to exceed my expectations, but this club and this team [have] done that, and I’m very happy to be part of it,” she continued.
It’s going to be an exciting night – not just for the San Diego Wave and Angel City FC, but for women soccer players across the NWSL. While we await that momentous night on September 17, let’s take a look at some of the top women soccer players currently killing it in the NWSL.
20. Cece Kizer
Cece Kizer is a forward and midfielder who currently wears No. 5 for the Kansas City Current. She started the season with Racing Louisville, but was traded to the Current on June 9, 2022. So far this season, she has six goals and one assist in 10 games played (682 minutes).
Kizer spent four years at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). She was originally drafted by the Houston Dash in 2019, but was later drafted by Racing Louisville in the 2020 expansion draft. She scored the first goal of the season for Louisville in 2021 and 2022 before the trade.
19. Kristen Hamilton
Kristen Hamilton is an attacker who currently wears No. 25 for the Kansas City Current. She has six goals and one assist in 17 games (16 starts) and 1,441 minutes played in 2022. With 20 shots on goal, she finds a way to create chances for her team in every single match she plays.
Hamilton played in the W-League for two years before being drafted by the Western New York Flash in 2014 – eventually winning the 2016 NWSL Championship with the team. She remained on the team while they relocated to North Carolina and eventually joined the Current in 2021.
18. Katie Lund
Katie Lund is a goalkeeper who currently wears No. 1 for Racing Louisville FC. In 17 starts and 1,530 minutes played this season, Lund has made 79 saves with a 75.2% save success rate. She has a 1.53 goals against average and has recorded four clean sheets in the 2022 season.
Lund was originally drafted by the Washington Spirit after three years at Texas Christian University (TCU) and one year at the University of Arkansas. Racing Louisville FC drafted her in the 2020 expansion draft and she later ended up leading them to a Women’s Cup win in 2021.
17. Lo’eau LaBonta
Lo’eau LaBonta is a midfielder who currently wears No. 10 for the Kansas City Current. She has an impressive six goals and four assists this season, despite playing only 1,242 minutes in 15 games. With 15 shots on goal, she’s finding the back of the net on nearly half of her shots.
Between 2011 and 2014, LaBonta played for Stanford University and was a member of the 2011 National Championship winning team. She was drafted by Sky Blue FC in 2015, also playing for FC Kansas City and Utah Royals FC before signing with the Current – where she is thriving.
Debinha has been one of the top women’s soccer players for nearly a decade. She currently wears No. 10 for the North Carolina Courage and is putting together an impressive campaign – scoring five goals and dishing two assists in just 12 games this season (1,073 minutes played).
Since 2006, Debinha has played in countries all around the world, eventually landing in the NWSL in 2017. She has been a mainstay on Brazil’s national team since 2011, scoring 54 international goals in 126 matches – her last goal coming on July 30, 2022 against Colombia.
15. Nichelle Prince
Nichelle Prince is a forward who currently wears No. 8 for the Houston Dash. The 27-year-old has five goals and two assists for the club this season, playing 1,138 minutes in 14 games. Of her 24 shots, half of them (12) have been on goal – and nearly half of those have gone in.
Prince played four years of college soccer at Ohio State University before being drafted by the Dash in 2017. She’s having the best season of her career after missing most of her 2019 campaign due to injury. Prince also has 13 goals in 83 matches for Canada’s national team.
14. Christine Sinclair
Christine Sinclair is one of the greatest women soccer players of all-time. She currently wears No. 12 for the Portland Thorns and has been with the team since 2013. Despite playing just 753 minutes (10 games) this season, she has scored five goals on 17 shots (13 shots on goal).
Sinclair has been a member of Canada’s national team since 2000 – her 190 international goals are the most all-time (both men and women, any country). She played in the USL W-League and WPS before joining the NWSL, where she has established herself as a consistent scorer.
13. Christen Press
Christen Press is a forward who currently wears No. 23 for Angel City FC during their inaugural season. She has played just 686 minutes in 10 games (10 starts) this season, scoring two goals and dishing one assist in the process. She also has 10 shots on goal and 20 shots total.
Press is currently in her third stint in the NWSL – she previously played for the Utah Royals FC in 2018 and 2019, and the Chicago Red Stars between 2014 and 2017. Before joining Angel City, she spent one year with Manchester United. She has 64 international goals for the USA.
12. Jessica Fishlock
Jessica Fishlock is a midfielder who currently wears No. 10 for the OL Reign – a team she has been with since 2013. She has played a total of 1,359 minutes in 16 games this season, scoring four goals and dishing one assist in the process. She also has 18 shots on goal (31 total shots).
Fishlock made her senior debut in 2002 with Cardiff City L.F.C., a team located in Cardiff, Wales – where she was born. By 2006, she made her international debut with the Wales national team and has scored 31 goals in 119 appearances for the club ever since. She’s a Welsh legend.
11. Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe is a midfielder and winger who currently wears No. 15 for the OL Reign – a team she has been with since 2013. She has four goals and three assists this season, despite playing in just nine games and starting just five games – she has logged just 556 minutes.
Rapinoe played four years of college soccer at the University of Portland before joining the Chicago Red Stars of the WPS in 2009. She played for Sydney FC, Seattle Sounders Women, and Olympique Lyonnais before joining the NWSL. She also has 62 goals for Team USA.
10. Ebony Salmon
Ebony Salmon is a forward who currently wears No. 11 for the Houston Dash. She has been on a tear this season, scoring eight goals in just nine games played (757 minutes). Of her 24 shots, 18 of them have been on goal and almost half of them have gone in. She’s the real deal.
Salmon was traded earlier this year after her playing time declined under a new head coach at Racing Louisville. She felt betrayed and is now proving her worth in what has been an incredible 2022 campaign. At just 21 years old, we’re excited to see what she can do in the coming years.
9. Rose Lavelle
Rose Lavelle is a midfielder who currently wears No. 16 for the OL Reign. She shoots often, logging 36 shots (17 shots on goal) this season – scoring three goals and one assist in 12 games (1,059 minutes). This is her second season with the team and second stint in the NWSL.
Lavelle played one season with Manchester City in the Women’s Super League in 2021, but decided to return to the United States – she last played in the NWSL between 2017 and 2020. She also has 21 goals for Team USA and helped them win an Olympic bronze medal in 2020.
8. Sofia Huerta
Sofia Huerta is a right back on defense who currently wears No. 11 for the OL Reign – a team she has been with since 2020. Now in her third year with the team, she has become a mainstay on their defense – appearing in 14 games (14 starts) and logging 1,260 minutes this season.
Huerta has also played for the Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars between 2015 and 2019 – as well as Sydney FC of the W-League. She has also made 20 international appearances for Team USA since 2017 and played four years of college soccer at Santa Clara University.
7. Naomi Girma
Naomi Girma is a defender who currently wears No. 4 for the San Diego Wave – a teammate of Alex Morgan. She was selected as the No. 1 overall draft pick this past season and despite being a rookie, she has already established herself as one of the best defenders in the NWSL.
Girma has logged 1,350 minutes this year in 15 games played (15 starts). She won Best XI of the Month in May and June, as well as Rookie of the Month in June. Outside of the NWSL, she has made six appearances for Team USA and had a legendary career at Stanford University.
6. Trinity Rodman
Trinity Rodman, the daughter of Dennis Rodman, is a forward who currently wears No. 2 for the Washington Spirit. She has four goals and two assists this season, logging 1,100 minutes in 13 games (12 starts). She has taken 31 shots (19 shots on goal) and also has 14 interceptions.
Despite being just 20 years old and in her second season, she’s currently the highest paid player in the NWSL. She was the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, even though she never played a match in college. She recently scored four goals at the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup.
5. Ashley Hatch
Ashley Hatch is a forward who currently wears No. 33 for the Washington Spirit – a team she has been with since 2018. She has been very productive for the Spirit this season, scoring seven goals and logging 1,022 minutes in 13 games (11 starts). She also has 19 shots on goal.
Hatch was originally drafted second overall by the North Carolina Courage in 2017. Despite winning Rookie of the Year, she was traded to the Spirit the following season. Last year, she won the NWSL Golden Boot with 10 goals – en route to her first NWSL Championship.
4. Mallory Pugh
Mallory Pugh is a forward who currently wears No. 9 for the Chicago Red Stars. She’s having an incredibly well-rounded season, scoring eight goals and dishing five assists, despite logging just 861 minutes in 11 games (9 starts). She also has 37 shots, including 23 shots on goal.
Pugh decided to skip college soccer and turned professional in 2017, joining the Washington Spirit. After three seasons with the team, she was traded to the Sky Blue FC, who traded her to the Red Stars the following year. She also has 24 international goals for Team USA since 2016.
3. Sophia Smith
Sophia Smith is a forward who currently wears No. 9 for the Portland Thorns. She has been a scoring machine this season, recording 11 goals and two assists in 1,024 minutes (13 games, 11 starts). She’s known to shoot often, logging 50 shots so far in 2022 (31 shots on goal).
Smith played two years of college soccer at Stanford University between 2018 and 2019. She was the No. 1 overall pick by the Thorns in 2020 and has been on a tear ever since. In addition to her success in the NWSL, she has scored 10 goals in 22 appearances with Team USA.
2. Diana Ordoñez
Diana Ordoñez is a forward who currently wears No. 12 for the North Carolina Courage. Despite it being her rookie season after going No. 6 overall in this year’s draft, Ordoñez has already put the league on notice – scoring 11 goals (18 shots on goal) in 14 games played.
Other than Sophia Smith and Alex Morgan, no other women in the NWSL have more goals this season. Her 11 goals have already broken the rookie record of seven – previously held by Ashley Hatch (2017) and Jazmine Reeves (2014). She will likely win 2022 Rookie of the Year.
1. Alex Morgan
And finally, we’ve come full-circle. Alex Morgan is a striker who currently wears No. 13 for the San Diego Wave. She’s the current league leader with 13 goals, also dishing two assists in 1,259 minutes played (15 games, 14 starts). She has taken 40 shots (22 shots on goal).
Morgan is in her 10th season in the NWSL and first with San Diego, having previously played for the Orlando Pride (2016-2021) and Portland Thorns (2013-2015). Her 13 league goals are the most she has ever scored in a single season – she scored nine goals with Orlando in 2017.
Who Are the Best Women Soccer Players of All-Time?
Alex Morgan can certainly make her case as one of the greatest American soccer players of all-time, but she’s far from the only one – let’s not forget about Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Abby Wambach, Kristine Lilly, Briana Scurry, Joy Fawcett, Hope Solo, to name a few.
Of course, that’s just the United States. Some of the other greatest women soccer players of all-time include Marta, Birgit Prinz, Sun Wen, Homare Sawa, Kelly Smith, Christine Sinclair, Nadine Angerer, Hege Riise, Sissi, Pia Sundhage, Lily Parr, Silke Rottenberg, and more.
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There are so many great women soccer players in the world today and some of them are currently in the NWSL. As we near closer to September 17th, don’t forget to tune into the potential record-breaking game between the San Diego Wave FC and the Angel City FC!
20 Girl Soccer Players Your Kids Should Look Up To
While many people used to question whether women belong in the sport of football, several girl soccer players have helped rewrite that narrative through the years. They’ve not only proven women can play, but that they can be just as influential and talented as their male counterparts.
The sport continues to grow among the female population and, though not as popular as men’s soccer, has built a loyal following that consists of both men and women. Girl soccer players are more respected in the game now than ever before, but it’s clear they still have a long way to go.
That’s why it’s important young women around the world draw inspiration from those that came before them. All the girl soccer players you see today were once inspired by someone special, but now it’s their turn to inspire someone and spark a new generation of girl soccer players.
The Most Influential Girl Soccer Players of All-Time
When you think of the most influential girl soccer players of all-time, there are several names that jump into your mind right away. Then there are those that you might not think of right away, but that doesn’t make them any less important to the emergence of women in football (soccer).
Whether you recognize the name or not, the most influential girl soccer players are all unique in their own way and each contributed to the game in different ways. Some of them did it with their talent or skill, some of them did it with their voice, and some of them did it by breaking barriers.
Either way, it’s clear that women’s soccer wouldn’t be where it is today without these girl soccer players we’re about to share with you. They’ve played an enormous role in helping the game evolve and were instrumental to putting women ‘on the map’ in the popular football community.
20. Nadine Angerer
After a 20-year career that spanned from 1995 to 2015, Nadine Angerer retired as one of the greatest female goalkeepers of all-time. She played in 146 caps for Team Germany, won two FIFA World Cups, five UEFA European Football Championships, and three Olympic medals.
She was also named 2013 FIFA World Player of the Year and the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Best Goalkeeper. Since retiring, she has inspired a new generation of goalkeepers as the goalkeeping coach for the Portland Thorns (NWSL), where she spent two seasons as a player.
19. Christine Sinclair
Christine Sinclair is one of the best girl soccer players in the world today. She’s the current captain of the Portland Thorns (NWSL) and Team Canada. She has also played for the Western New York Flash, FC Gold Pride, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and the Vancouver Breakers.
Sinclair currently holds the record for most international goals with 188 in 308 appearances with Canada – that’s the most goals among both men and women. She has also appeared in five World Cups and is a three-time Olympic medalist – including an impressive gold medal in 2020.
18. Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith is one of the greatest English female soccer players of all-time. Despite suffering several injuries in her career, she finished with the second-most goals scored in Team England history – 46 goals in 117 caps. She also represented Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics.
Between 2005 and 2009, Smith scored 73 goals in 66 appearances for the Arsenal Ladies. She returned to the team from 2012-2017. Smith also spent a lot of her career playing in the United States, including stints with the Philadelphia Charge, New Jersey Wildcats, Boston Breakers.
17. Homare Sawa
Homare Sawa is one of the most recognizable, gifted, and decorated Asian soccer players of all-time. Her club career spanned 24 years between 1991 and 2015, and her national career with Japan spanned 22 years between 1993 and 2015. She was a pleasure to watch over the years.
Sawa is currently the all-time leader in both caps (205) and goals (83) for Japan. She helped lead the team to a FIFA World Cup win in 2011 and a silver medal finish at the 2012 Summer Olympics. She spent most of her club career with NTV Beleza and INAC Kobe Leonessa.
16. Sun Wen
Speaking of all-time Asian greats, Sun Wen is one of the best Chinese football players ever. She played most of her career for Shanghai in the Chinese women’s league, scoring 164 goals in 659 appearances between 1989and 2000. She also played for the Atlanta Beat for two years.
She represented Team China internationally, scoring 106 goals in 163 appearances between 1990 and 2006. She was named FIFA Female Player of the Century in 2000, won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot at the 1999 FIFA World Cup, and a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics.
15. Birgit Prinz
Birgit Prinz is one of the most gifted German female soccer players of all-time. She started her senior career in 1993 and announced her retirement in 2011, including successful stints with FSV Frankfurt, 1. FFC Frankfurt (Frauen-Bundesliga), and the Carolina Courage (WUSA).
In domestic league matches, she scored 282 goals in 282 club caps. She also scored 128 goals in 214 national caps for Team Germany. She’s a two-time FIFA World Cup winner, three-time FIFA World Player of the Year, and has the second-most Women’s World Cup goals with 14.
14. Julie Foudy
Julie Foudy attended Stanford University and was a member of their soccer team, where she scored 52 goals in 78 matches. She also scored 45 goals in 274 matches with Team USA, where she served as co-captain between 1991 and 2000, and captain between 2000 and 2004.
Foudy is a two-time World Cup Champion and three-time Olympic medalist (two gold medals). She’s the co-founder of the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, which helps develop leadership skills in teenage girls. She’s also a reporter, analyst, and commentator for ESPN.
13. Alex Morgan
Alex Morgan is one of the most recognizable and popular girl soccer players today. She currently plays for the San Diego Wave FC of the NWSL, but has also played for the Orlando Pride, Lyon, Portland Thorns FC, and Western New York Flash between 2011 and 2022.
Morgan is an all-star and had herself quite the 2012 calendar year, scoring 28 goals and dishing 21 assists. She became the youngest US player to score 20 goals in a season and just the second American player to go 20 and 20 in a calendar year – joining the likes of Mia Hamm.
12. Ada Hegerberg
Ada Hegerberg is one of the most talented Norwegian female soccer players of all-time. She currently plays for Olympique Lyonnais in Division 1 Féminine, a team she has represented since 2014. In 125 domestic appearances with the team, she has scored 152 career goals.
Hegerberg holds the record for most goals in a single UEFA Women’s Champions League season with 15 goals, as well as the most goals in UEFA Women’s Champions League all-time with 56 goals. She made history in 2018 when she won the first ever Ballon d’Or Féminin.
11. Kim Crabbe
Kim Crabbe is a pioneer among girl soccer players, becoming the first African American called up to a USWNT camp. She caught the attention of head coach Anson Dorrance after her team defeated his team in the 1985 NCAA national championship. She played for George Mason.
Being called up to the USWNT camp just months after that game was overwhelming for Crabbe. While she never earned a cap for the team, she paved the way for African American females and her impact on the sport inspired a generation of girl soccer players that continues today.
10. Sandi Gordon
Where Crabbe was the first African American to join a USWNT camp, Sandi Gordon became the first African American to earn a cap with the USWNT – proving the impact Crabbe had on the game. Though she never scored a goal for the team, she did make seven appearances.
Much like Crabbe, Gordon grabbed the attention of coach Anson Dorrance in the mid-1980s. She also participated in the 1987 US Olympic Festival and played for the Tacoma Cozars of the USASA National Women’s Amateur. She made her international debut on July 9, 1987.
9. Trinity Rodman
The efforts of Crabbe and Gordon in the mid-1980s came to fruition in 2022 when Trinity Rodman, the daughter of NBA legend Dennis Rodman, signed the largest contract in NWSL history. Trinity Rodman is an African American soccer player for the Washington Spirit.
At just 19 years old, Rodman is an inspiration to many girl soccer players looking to make it at an early age. She became the youngest player ever drafted into the NWSL in 2021 when the Spirit drafted her second overall. She recently made her international debut with Team USA.
8. Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe is one of the most influential and inspirational girl soccer players of all-time. She has been one of the sport’s biggest voices both on and off the field – especially among the LGBTQ+ community. She announced her engagement to WNBA legend Sue Bird in 2020.
On the field, Rapinoe has helped the UWSNT win two World Cups and two Olympic medals – a gold medal in 2012 and a bronze medal in 2021. She has 62 goals and 71 assists in 187 appearances for Team USA. She was named the recipient of the Ballon d’Or Féminin in 2019.
7. Michelle Akers
Michelle Akers is widely regarded as one of the greatest girl soccer players of all-time. She represented the USWNT between 1985 and 2000, recording 105 goals and 37 assists in 153 national appearances. She helped the team win two World Cups and an Olympic gold medal.
Akers was inducted into the US National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004 and has received numerous awards throughout her career – including being named FIFA Female Player of the Century in 2000, an award she shared with Sun Wen. Akers will always be a legend in the sport.
6. April Heinrichs
April Heinrichs has done it all in the soccer world. She became one of the first players to ever join the USWNT, which she captained in 1991 when the team won the inaugural Women’s World Cup. Between 1986 and 1991, she scored 35 goals in 46 appearances with Team USA.
After retiring as a player, Heinrichs spent four years as head coach of Team USA, helping lead the team to a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics, and a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics. She’s currently the Technical Director for women’s soccer by the United States Soccer Federation.
5. Nettie Honeyball
When you think about the pioneers in women’s soccer, Nettie Honeyball is one of the earliest and most influential. In 1894, she gathered 30 young girl soccer players and created the British Ladies Football Club – which became the first known women’s association football club.
The club was originally coached by J.W. Julian, a player for Tottenham Hotspur at the time, and Honeyball was one of the players (until 1895). “I founded the association late last year, with the fixed resolve of proving to the world that women are not the ‘ornamental and useless’ creatures men have pictured,” she said in an 1895 interview.
4. Lily Parr
Lily Parr is another pioneer for women in soccer and perhaps no one will ever have a career like hers. She played nearly 100 matches with her local St. Helens Ladies team in 1919, but she’s most known for her time with Dick, Kerr Ladies, a team founded in 1917 in Preston, Lancashire.
She would appear in 700 matches with the Dick, Kerr Ladies and scored 900 goals for the team in a career that spanned from 1920 to 1951. While playing, she worked at the Whittingham Mental Hospital as a nurse and was also a member of and icon in the LGBTQ+ community.
3. Abby Wambach
Not many girl soccer players had the type of impact on the game that Abby Wambach did between 1998 and 2015. She was a staple on the USWNT, earning 255 caps and scoring 184 goals between 2001 and 2015. She’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist and one-time World Cup winner.
Wambach has earned a lot of accolades in her career, including six U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards and the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year. She currently has the most goals in USWNT history and the second most international goals among both men and women.
2. Mia Hamm
Mia Hamm is considered one of the most dominant and influential girl soccer players of all-time. She played for the USWNT between 1987 and 2004, scoring 158 goals in 276 appearances. During that time, she helped the team win two gold medals and one silver at the Olympics.
She was a five-time U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year (consecutive), a two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, and currently has the third-most international goals among men and women. She was the face of the WUSA between 2001 and 2003 with the Washington Freedom.
Marta is widely regarded as the greatest female soccer player of all-time and has a resume that very few girl soccer players can match. She began her senior career in 2000 and continues to play to this day, proving age is just a number. She plays for the Orlando Pride in the NWSL.
She has competed in five straight Olympic games and five straight World Cups, scoring at least once in each tournament. She has scored 114 goals for Brazil in 170 appearances since 2002 and currently serves as a Sustainable Development Goals advocate for making the world a better place.
Other Girl Soccer Players Worth Mentioning
Of all the women that have made a name for themselves in soccer, it was hard to pick just 20 to include in the list above. We didn’t even get to mention Miraildes Formiga, Cristiane, Ariane Hingst, Formiga, Kerstin Garefrekes, Kristine Lilly, Carli Loyd, and Hanna Ljungberg.
And that’s not even touching base on some of the female coaches, managers, executives, media personalities in soccer that you don’t see on the field – including Lydia Nsekera, Karren Brady, Kathy Carter, Karen Espelund, Pia Sundhage, Hope Powell, and Steffi Jones.
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It doesn’t matter who you draw inspiration from, so long as you draw inspiration from someone. Girl soccer players have so much potential in the world of football and it’s important that we continue to see that development, evolution, growth, and emergence in the coming years.
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