By Mary Cunningham
FIFA made official yesterday what we in Philly have known for a long time:
South Jersey’s Carli Lloyd was named Best FIFA Women’s Player of 2016 at a ceremony in Zurich, winning top honors for the second consecutive year.
Lloyd beat Brazil’s Marta and Germany’s Melanie Behringer for the honor. Lloyd was 2015 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, when she led the Americans to the Women’s World Cup trophy. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
“I honestly wasn’t expecting this,” Lloyd said after her accepting the award.
“Honestly I wouldn’t be standing up here without the help of my teammates. It takes 11 of us on the field. It also takes a bench; it also takes support staff, coaching staff.
“So I want to thank Jill Ellis and the coaching staff for really believing in me and just helping evolve my game.”
In 2016, Lloyd scored 17 goals and had 11 assists in 21 games. The U.S. women failed to finish on the Olympic podium, falling to Sweden in the quarterfinals on penalties.
Against Thailand in September, Lloyd collected her seventh international hat trick and had four assists. She’s the first U.S. player to have three goals and four assists in a single match for the women’s national team.
Cristiano Ronaldo was named the Best FIFA Men’s Player. In 2016, he won a Champions League title with Real Madrid and the Euro 2016 title with Portugal.
Monday’s winners were selected by captains and head coaches of women’s national teams along with votes from fans and media.
Behringer led Germany to the gold medal at the Rio Olympics. She retired from international competition with 123 caps after scoring a tournament-leading five goals.
Marta, 30, has won Player of the Year a record five consecutive times in her career. Her Brazilian national team lost the bronze medal match to Canada at the Olympics.