World Player of the Year: Carli Lloyd joins select group of Americans to win
Following a year in which she led the U.S. women’s national team to its third World Cup title, midfielder Carli Lloyd won FIFA World Player of the Year honors on Monday.
Lloyd now joins Mia Hamm (2001 and 2002) and Abby Wambach (2012) as the only Americans to win the award. No American man has ever won the men’s equivalent of the honor, the Ballon d’Or.
In light of Lloyd’s accomplishment, take a look back at the seasons that were for each American winner in the award’s 15-year history.
Hamm was named the inaugural winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2001. She won by a landslide, receiving 154 points from the 72 women’s national team coaches. Hamm finished ahead of China’s Sun Wen (79 points) and American teammate Tiffeny Milbrett (47 points).
Aside from her pioneering FIFA honor, Hamm also became a founding member of the WUSA in 2001, which was the first women’s professional soccer league to pay its players. As a forward for the Washington Freedom, Hamm earned All-WUSA second team honors in the league’s first season.
She capped her 2001 campaign with a two-goal performance for the women’s national team in a 4–1 victory over Germany at the Nike U.S. Women’s Cup.
In 2001, Hamm upped her career goal total to 129, which was at that point the most-ever for a woman or man in international competition.
In 2002, Hamm was named the top female soccer player in the world by FIFA for the second straight year.
Once again, she captured the award by an overwhelming majority, receiving 161 points, far ahead of Germany’s Birgit Prinz (96 points) and China's Wen (58 points).
Hamm’s biggest goal of the year came on Nov. 9 in the Women’s Gold Cup title game against Canada, when she found the net four minutes into extra time for a golden goal to give the Americans a 2–1 victory and the title.
Hamm also had great success during the 2002 WUSA season. After missing the first nine games of the campaign due to knee surgery, Hamm netted the game-winning goal in her first match back in June.
Hamm, then 30, went on to score seven more goals during the WUSA season, helping the Freedom advance to the Founders Cup title game, where her team fell 3–2 to the Carolina Courage.
After leading the U.S. to its third straight Olympic gold, Wambach received 20.67% of votes to beat out Brazil’s Marta (13.5%) and American teammate Alex Morgan (10.87%) for FIFA’s top honor in 2012.
“Winning any individual award is a product of the team you play for,” Wambach said in her acceptance speech for the award at the Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich. “I’ve never scored a goal without receiving a pass from my teammates.”
Wambach, then 32, scored five times at the London Games and won the tournament’s Golden Ball, which is given to its top performer.
In 2012, she increased her career goals total to 152, bringing her within six scores of tying Hamm’s international record of 158. Wambach would ultimately surpass Hamm’s mark in June 2013.
The striker finished her award-winning year with 24 goals.
Lloyd scored 18 goals for the U.S. women’s national team in 2015, helping her win FIFA World Player of the Year as well as U.S. Soccer’s female player of the year honors.
The 33-year-old turned in one of the finest individual performances ever in a World Cup final, men’s or women’s, scoring a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the U.S. women's national team's victory over Japan on July 5.
Lloyd captured the Women’s World Cup’s Golden Ball and Silver Boot awards after netting six goals in the tournament and becoming the first female player to score in four straight knockout round matches. Along with winning the World Cup, the United States went 20–4–2 in 2015, with its only losses coming in friendly matches.
Lloyd also starred for the NWSL’s Houston Dash in 2015, scoring four goals—including three game-winners—in 12 matches.