It came as no surprise to many that U.S. Soccer announced Sophia Smith as the best female player of 2022. In the same announcement, the federation also awarded Jaedyn Shaw as the young female player of the year in 2022. Smith garnered 50.8% of the overall votes among the five finalists while Shaw earned 35.1% of the overall vote in her category as well.
Sophia Smith has more than earned the title as she powered Portland Thorns FC to another NWSL Championship and also earned NWSL MVP status due to her exploits this past season. Smith was integral to the Thorns season, featuring in 20 games and putting up 15 goals with 3 assists as they became the top team in the NWSL once again last year.
Not only was she a key figure for the Thorns but she also was one of the best players in a roller-coaster year for the USWNT. Sophia Smith scored 11 goals in 17 appearances and also notched an assist as she helped the USWNT qualify for the World Cup this year by winning the CONCACAF W Championship last summer.
Speaking to U.S. Soccer on her award, Smith noted that while the previous year had been challenging, it had also been an exciting year for herself. “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.”
For the second year in a row, fans were able to vote for their U.S. Soccer Player and Young Player of the Year with those votes weighted at 15% of the total. This combined with votes from respective national team coaches, national team players who were capped in 2022, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, NWSL head coaches and select media members, administrators and college coaches, were all tallied together to name the awarded players as the best players in the country.