December 13, 2016
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Tobin Heath, Ashley Sanchez earn U.S. Soccer awards
Tobin Heath has been named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year for the first time, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Tuesday.
Heath, known for her creativity and skillful style, gained 40 percent of the vote, ahead of Crystal Dunn (34 percent). UCLA-bound Ashley Sanchez (47 percent) finished ahead of Andi Sullivan (27 percent) to win Young Female Player of the Year.
"It's obviously an honor to win an award like this, especially when you look at the list of amazing players who have won it before," Heath said in a release. "This year was a difficult one for our team, but overall we played some great soccer so it's humbling to be recognized individually. I'm just proud to be in the company of all the great players that were nominated and all of the players that played for the USA this year. I couldn't have accomplished anything without the support of my teammates and my coaches, and while it was a fun year for me personally, I'm excited not only about my own future, but also the future of this team as I know we have a lot more room to grow and many more goals to achieve."
Heath, 28, a Basking Ridge, N.J., native, this year played 22 games, totaling career bests six goals and eight assists, and competing in her fifth world championship tournament.
Heath recorded two assists as the U.S. reached the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games and set an NWSL record with 10 assists in 14 appearances in being named to the league’s best XI as the Portland Thorns won the regular-season title.
Sanchez, 17, from Monrovia, Calif., captained the USA at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan, and was the youngest player at the 2016 FIFA U-20 WWC in Papua New Guinea.
Playing forward and attacking midfielder, Sanchez became the first U.S. Youth Women's National Team player to score in both a FIFA U-17 and U-20 WWC in the same year. At the U-17 WWC, Sanchez scored three goals, one against Paraguay and two against eventual runnerup Japan. Sanchez finished her U-17 career with 21 goals in 21 games. Sanchez started all six games at the U-20 WWC, playing all but two minutes, totaling one goal and two assists, and finishing with five goals in 16 U-20 internationals.
Sanchez won the Golden Ball as the best player at the 2016 CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championship in Grenada, scoring five goals in five games and being named to the Best XI team as the USA won the title. In 2016, Sanchez also trained briefly with the full U.S. Women's National Team during an April camp in Orlando, Fla.
"It was a memorable year, for sure, and even though we fell short at both World Cups, I know the experiences that me and my teammates had will last a lifetime," Sanchez said. "It's a huge honor to win this award and I'm really appreciative of everyone who voted for me. I also want to thank all of my teammates and coaches on the U-17s and the U-20s. They are great players and great friends and, hopefully, a bunch of us will reach our goals of playing for the full team one day."