Who doesn’t love a good ranking?
Backline Soccer decided to rank the NWSL’s best all-time goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards. We tried as much as possible to stick to NWSL play and keep any national team performance out of our decision-making.
How did we get to our finalists? A brutal two-round process that left each of us at our collective wit’s end trying to separate the best from an already stellar pool of players.
In Round One, Backline Soccer crew members each chose 30 field players and 5 goalkeepers from a list of the nearly 300 players who have ever taken the pitch in the NWSL. And then, in Round Two, we separated the top seven players into each of their positions and ranked them from 1 to 5.
Like we said. Brutal.
But we did it anyway. And here are our choices:
#3 Goalkeeper: Hope Solo – Seattle Reign
It’s fairly impossible to compile a list of top goalkeepers without including Hope Solo. Though her international play makes her far and away the best of all time, her injury during the 2013 season and overall availability is most likely why she is only #3 on our list. Solo has held an impressive record with the Reign. In her first season, she boasted 81 saves in just 14 games. She then went on to make the NWSL Second Best XI in 2014 and finished off the 2016 season with 0.63 GAA and five clean sheets.
#3 Defender: Ali Krieger – Orlando Pride
When you think of elite right backs in the women’s game, Ali Krieger’s name is at the top of the list. The former Washington Spirit captain, now Orlando Pride defender, played in at least 15 games in three of the four seasons for the Spirit, leading the Spirit to the playoffs in the most recent three seasons. Despite being a defender, Krieger scored four goals, including one in the 2016 semifinal. At 32 years old, Krieger remains one of the top right backs in the NWSL because of exceptional positioning and great recovery speed.
#3 Midfielder: Jess Fishlock – Seattle Reign
Jess Fishlock has been an unstoppable force for the Seattle Reign. With 17 goals and 14 assists over the course of four seasons, it’s no wonder she has been named to either the NWSL Best XI or Second Best XI every year. Fishlock has earned the nickname “The Dragon” because of her Welsh heritage, but she hasn’t failed to live up to the ferocity of the term. Her fierce playing style and passion on the field is undeniable and is a big part of why she is #3 on our list of best NWSL midfielders of all time.
#3 Forward: Amy Rodriguez – FC Kansas City
A versatile player with a nose for the goal, Amy Rodriguez joined FCKC in 2014, after the birth of her first child. Since then, Rodriguez has been a powerful asset, notching 26 goals in 37 appearances. Juggling National Team duty with her play in the NWSL, Rodriguez found her niche in a partnership with Lauren Holiday on both teams. She has the distinction of scoring all three of FCKC’s championship game goals–two in their 2014 2-1 win over the Seattle Reign, and the only goal a year later in their 1-0 victory, again against Seattle. Her second pregnancy kept Rodriguez off the pitch for the 2016 season, as well as off the roster for Rio, but she reported to the January USWNT camp in 2017 and is reportedly in excellent condition. We can’t wait to see how FCKC bounces back this season with the return of Rodriguez, and how an on-the-field partnership with Leroux will work out.