To the surprise of no one, Sophia Smith added yet another accolade to her name after an excellent year in 2022. On Friday, U.S. Soccer crowned Smith as Female Player of the Year for her efforts with the U.S. women’s national team and Portland Thorns.
The announcement was merely a formality, as Smith’s resume was far and away the most decorated of any player in the running. Really, there wasn’t much else more for the taking when you think about it, making her the obvious choice.
Her headlining accomplishments boast winning the NWSL Championship (where scored in the match), the NWSL MVP, as well as leading the USWNT in goals scored with 11 on the year. She is the youngest-ever player to accomplish the latter two feats.
“Obviously this is surreal, and I’m super humbled,” Smith said in a statement provided by U.S. Soccer. “It’s been a very exciting year, and certainly there’s been some challenges, but just being able to grow and develop in the environments with the National Team and the Thorns, and being surrounded by such amazing players, players that I have looked up to for so long, has pushed me to become a better player and person.”
Smith, 22, becomes the fourth-ever player in USWNT history to claim the U.S. Female Player of the Year title after earning Young Female Player of the Year status (2017). The Stanford product has been on an impressive rise since being selected first overall by the Thorns back in 2020.
“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.”
While 2022 could not have gone better, Smith opens the new year on the injury report.
The USWNT returns to action in New Zealand later this month and the Colorado native’s absence from the roster was a noticeable one. At the moment, she is on the mend from a foot injury and will not be kicking off the new year with the Americans.
It should be said that Smith’s 2023 FIFA World Cup spot should be a lock once she returns to action.