Chicago leads way with seven players honored to NWSL Teams

CHICAGO –  The National Women’s Soccer League announced Friday the Best XI selections for the 2016 NWSL season.

Between NWSL’s Best XI and Second XI, Chicago led the way with seven total players as forward Christen Press and defender Arin Gilliland earned spots on the Best XI, and midfielders Vanessa DiBernardo and Danielle Colaprico, defenders Julie Johnston and Casey Short and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher graced the Second XI. This is Colaprico’s second honor in a row, being voted to the 2015 Second XI as the only rookie midfielder.

NWSL Shield winners Portland Thorns FC led the Best XI with three selections to the squad followed by the Chicago Red Stars and Western New York Flash with two members each on the team.

Seven players earned their first selection to the Best XI this year led by NWSL MVP Lynn Williams, who at 23 is the youngest player on the squad – 147 days younger than the next youngest player, Chicago Red Stars defender Gilliland, who jumped up to Best XI after being named to the Second XI in 2015.

Williams and her Best XI and club teammate Jessica McDonald are both set to feature in the 2016 NWSL Championship Game on Sunday, Oct. 9 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston in a match broadcast nationally at 5 p.m. ET live on FOX Sports 1.

Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris also highlights the first-time selections as she becomes the first player on an NWSL expansion club to earn the honor.

Four players were voted to the Best XI for the second consecutive year – highlighted by FC Kansas City defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who earned her fourth straight selection to the squad. Seattle Reign FC defender Lauren Barnes, Portland Thorns FC midfielder Allie Long and Chicago Red Stars forward Press were the other players to repeat as selections from the 2015 Best XI.

Position Player Club Country Note
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris Orlando Pride USA 62 saves
Defender Lauren Barnes Seattle Reign FC USA 1,775 minutes
Defender Arin Gilliland Chicago Red Stars USA 1.00 team GAA
Defender Emily Menges Portland Thorns FC USA 0.95 team GAA
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn FC Kansas City USA 1.00 team GAA
Midfielder Tobin Heath Portland Thorns FC USA Goal, 10 assists
Midfielder Allie Long Portland Thorns FC USA 6 goals, 2 assists
Forward Jessica McDonald Western New York Flash USA 10 goals, 7 assists
Forward Kealia Ohai Houston Dash USA 11 goals, 4 assists
Forward Christen Press Chicago Red Stars USA 8 goals
Forward Lynn Williams Western New York Flash USA 11 goals, 5 assists

The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.

The NWSL Second XI is comprised of the next leading vote getters at each position that did not make the Best XI (listed by position, alphabetically by last name):

Position Player Club Country Note
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher Chicago Red Stars USA 1.00 GAA
Defender Julie Johnston Chicago Red Stars USA 1.00 team GAA
Defender Ali Krieger Washington Spirit USA 1.05 team GAA
Defender Christie Rampone Sky Blue FC USA 1,800 minutes
Defender Casey Short Chicago Red Stars USA 1,781 minutes
Midfielder Danielle Colaprico Chicago Red Stars USA Goal, 2 assists
Midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo Chicago Red Stars USA 7 assists
Midfielder Jess Fishlock Seattle Reign FC Wales Goal, 4 assists
Midfielder Kim Little Seattle Reign FC Scotland 6 goals, 2 assists
Forward Crystal Dunn Washington Spirit USA 2 goals, 5 assists
Forward Shea Groom FC Kansas City USA 8 goals

Thoughts from Arin Gilliland & Casey Short
“Being selected for the Second XI team is a huge honor, especially given the talent in this league. I think this recognition is a reflection of the teammates around me as well as the coaching staff and I’m thankful to be a part of such a special organization.” – Casey Short

“Being named First XI is truly humbling. Looking at the players on that list it is an honor to be listed besides them. However, as much as it is an honor, it is the players on my team and the other players amongst the league that have pushed me to better myself each day so that I could continue to grow as a player. The NWSL is easily one of the best leagues in the world with some of the best players and I look forward to watching it grow again in 2017.” – Arin Gilliland

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