Defender Naomi Girma was named U.S. Soccer’s Female Player of the Year for 2023 on Thursday, becoming just the second Black player to win in the award’s 39-year history.
Olivia Moultrie was named the federation’s Young Female Player of the Year.
The 23-year-old Grima was on a U.S. defense that allowed just one goal at the Women’s World Cup last summer. But the United States was knocked out of the tournament in the Round of 16 on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw with Sweden. It was the earliest exit ever for the Americans.
Girma, who also plays for the San Diego Wave in the National Women’s Soccer League, was named the NWSL Defender of the Year. She is the sixth player to win both a Young Player of the Year award, which she won in 2020, and the Player of the Year award.
“I’m honored and grateful to be the first defender and second Black player to win this award, but it’s really a testament to all the hard work put in by our goalkeepers, the back line and our whole team to achieve an historic year for our defense,” Girma said in a statement. “We are all very connected, work hard on the field, watch a lot of film to get better and really take pride in stopping teams from scoring.”
Girma played every minute of the team’s World Cup run. Overall, she started in 16 games for the United States last year.
Naomi Girma talks USWNT’s progress since the FIFA Women’s World Cup | SOTU
Moultrie, 18, made two appearances last year for the senior U.S. national team. She played in all 22 games this season with her NWSL team, the Portland Thorns, starting in 12. She had two goals and three assists in the regular season.
“It was a big year of growth for me, and I just hope it’s a step in the right direction,” Moultrie said. “I promise I’m going to work even harder in the coming years.”
U.S. Soccer’s players of the year are determined by vote of national team coaches and players, members of the federation’s board of directors and athletes’ council, NWSL head coaches, select members of the media and fans.
Girma earned 61.6% of the vote, while Moultrie earned 38.3%.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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