Today, FIFA revealed its nominees for two categories in the FIFA Ballon d'Or Awards, recognizing the best global talent in soccer for the year. Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe are both up for FIFA Women's Player of the Year, and Seattle Reign FC coach Laura Harvey was nominated for Coach of the Year.
The 10 FIFA Women's Player of the Year nominees are selected by FIFA's Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup and a group of experts from France Football. The names will be cut to three on November 30, and the winner will be announced January 11, 2016 at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala.
Here are some snippets that highlight why the selection committee chose Rapinoe and Solo:
Megan Rapinoe: Thundering down the left flank, Rapinoe has been a threat to defenders across the globe throughout her career. Her wonderful double inspired USA to a 3-1 win over Australia in their Canada 2015 curtain-raiser. The USA No15 has transformed into a leader on this experienced and skilled American side and will play a crucial role for the team as they look to defend another title.
Hope Solo: Hope Solo is widely considered one of the top goalkeepers in the women's game, but this is her first appearance in the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year shortlist since 2011. The similarities between that year and 2015, however, are very clear. Both saw her as the FIFA Women's World Cup adidas Golden Glove winner, claim a place in the FIFA Women's World Cup All-Star team and make an appearance in the tournament's final. She also guided Seattle Reign to the Supporter's Shield in the National Women's Soccer League, with only a play-off final defeat to Kansas City denying her a clean sweep.
The FIFA Ballon d'Or Awards are generally more of a popularity contest than an actual nod to the best player on the year. This year's list is no exception, with names like Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer on the list. Yet others— like Japan playmaker Aya Miyama and World Cup Silver Ball winner Amandine Henry—appear to be a sign the selection committee is recognizing this year's talent. I'd be surprised if the honor doesn't go to Carli Lloyd, but the award is always a little hard to predict.
Coach Laura Harvey has some tough competition for FIFA Women's World Coach of the Year, including a number of coaches that led teams to top-place finishes in the World Cup. Harvey and USWNT Coach Jill Ellis are the only two women coaches nominated for the category.
REVEALED - PART 2! The Final 10 Coaches for the FIFA Women's World Coach of the Year Award. Congratulations to all! pic.twitter.com/nazxEKUCnl— FIFA Women'sWorldCup (@FIFAWWC) October 19, 2015
Here's what the selection committee had to say about Harvey:
Laura Harvey: Having led Seattle Reign to the National Women's Soccer League final two years running, including a worst-to-first turnaround in her second season in charge, Laura Harvey was deservedly named NWSL Coach of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. Harvey made the most of her talent-laden side to capture her second consecutive NWSL Shield as the team at the top of the table at the end of the regular season. The Reign were once again edged by Kansas City in the final to deny Harvey an additional piece of silverware for the 2015 season, but the 35-year-old can be commended for fine-tuning a team that included Scottish sensation Kim Little, Wales captain Jess Fishlock and recent FIFA Women's World Cup champions Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe.
The Coach of the Year nominees will also be cut to a top-three shortlist on November 30, with the winner announced January 11, 2016.
What's your prediction for the three finalists in both the Player and Coach of the Year categories?