On Friday, the NWSL announced the full list of nominees for the 2022 NWSL Awards, which include the Most Valuable Player, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. Three OL Reign players are up for awards, while Laura Harvey received her fourth nomination for Coach of the Year.
Defenders Alana Cook and Sofia Huerta have been nominated for Defender of the Year, and goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce is a Goalkeeper of the Year nominee. The nominees for each award were determined using a weighted vote by players (50%), owners/GMs/coaches (25%), and media (25%).
This marks the first year where the NWSL Shield winner did not have at least one player nominated for MVP. It’s not necessarily a surprise that the Reign didn’t have anyone on the list, as different players have stepped up at different times — and team performances have been a more consistent theme for the club.
Centerback Alana Cook was part of a league-best defense that gave up just 19 goals in 22 matches. As The Equalizer pointed out, Cook won a league-high 82.7% of her defensive duels. She was virtually impossible to get around all season. On top of that, Cook won 59% of her tackles, was tied for third in the league in interceptions per 90 (2.4), and conceded just 11 fouls all season. Not only has Cook made a case for bringing home the award this year, but she’s also become a regular on the U.S. Women’s National Team — all at just 25 years old.
Right back Sofia Huerta, the other Defender of the Year nominee from OL Reign, was also part of that league-leading defense — and she took a big step forward on the defensive end in 2022 after making the permanent switch to the backline in the final third of last season. That includes a 70% tackle success rate. Huerta was one of the Reign’s more important players on the offensive end, as well. She had four assists and was second in the league in “Big Chances created.” According to The Equalizer, Huerta also created more scoring opportunities than anyone else in the NWSL.
Phallon Tullis-Joyce made a name for herself immediately this year after previously finding success in France. She is a big reason the Reign led in so many defensive categories. Tullis-Joyce was tied for the league lead in clean sheets (9) and leads the league in save percentage (77.1%). While she wasn’t forced into as many saves as other goalkeepers — thanks to her steady backline — those two stats speak for themselves. Plus, no other goalkeeper has done as much to raise awareness about ocean life as Phallon. That’s a phact.
After winning the award in 2021, Laura Harvey is again up for Coach of the Year. It’s hard to argue, as Harvey led the team to the NWSL Shield in the regular season. On top of that, she found ways to help the team evolve after some early struggles in front of goal. Due to injuries, international duty, fixture congestion, and just experimentation, OL Reign started 21 different lineups in 22 regular-season matches. It could be easy for a team to lose a little cohesion with that kind of rotation — but credit to Harvey for keeping this team’s identity consistent throughout.
Fans now have a chance to vote in the final round, and their ballots will contribute to 10% of the final vote tally, with players (50%), owners/GMs/coaches (20%), and media (20%) making up the rest of the weighted voting system.
Votes are due by Tuesday, October 18, at 11:59 PM ET/8:59 PM PT.
Full List of Nominees
The nominees for each of those 2022 NWSL Awards are:
Most Valuable Player, presented by Budweiser: Debinha (NC), Naomi Girma (SD), Alex Morgan (SD), Mallory Pugh (CHI), Sophia Smith (POR)
Defender of the Year: Alana Cook (RGN), Naomi Girma (SD), Sofia Huerta (RGN), Carson Pickett (NC), Becky Sauerbrunn (POR)
Goalkeeper of the Year: AD Franch (KC), Kailen Sheridan (SD), Phallon Tullis-Joyce (RGN)
Rookie of the Year, presented by Ally: Sam Coffey (POR), Naomi Girma (SD), Diana Ordóñez (NC)
Coach of the Year: Laura Harvey (RGN), Matt Potter (KC), Casey Stoney (SD)
Nationwide Community Impact Award
OL Reign’s Nationwide Community Impact Award nominee, Intentionalist, also won the 2022 fan vote — which means OL Reign fans tweeted the most support for Intentionalist during the month of September.
Intentionalist is an organization committed to intentional spending that supports small businesses and diverse local communities. Their online guide makes it easy for people to find local restaurants, bars, gyms, shops, and more owned by women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ individuals, families, and people with disabilities.
To reward them for securing the fan vote, Nationwide will give $5,000 to Intentionalist. That’s just the first step, however. A panel of judges will select the overall winner, which will be announced at the NWSL Final. The panel is made up of one representative from each of the NWSL, Nationwide, NWSL Players Association, media, and the fan vote. Each panel member gets one vote, so OL Reign fans essentially helped Intentionalist secure one-fifth of the overall vote already.
The winning community partner will receive a $25,000 donation from Nationwide to further their efforts. The remaining community partners also receive $5,000.
September/October Best XI Announced
The NWSL also announced the 11 players named to the Best XI of the Month. The league combined September and October, as the season concluded with the final set of matches in early October. For the second time this season, OL Reign led the Best XI cycle with three selections: Alana Cook, Rose Lavelle, and Megan Rapinoe.
D – Alana Cook (RGN): Appearing in every minute of play for OL Reign in September and October’s regular season contests, Cook’s stout defense helped her team to its third NWSL Shield in club history and the first since 2015. Cook helped the Reign earn three clean sheets in this span, including two on the road.
M – Rose Lavelle (RGN): Lavelle was hugely productive in the Reign midfield and tallied back-to-back goals in September to help extend the team’s unbeaten streak to seven games. The midfielder was tied for seventh in total shots across the league in this span.
F – Megan Rapinoe (RGN): Last month’s Player of the Month, Rapinoe picked up right where she left off, scoring three game-winning goals and registering 14 shots to lead OL Reign to the NWSL Shield and a first-round bye in the 2022 NWSL Playoffs.