Portland Thorns and United States women’s national team forward Sophia Smith received her first Ballon d’Or nomination in her career on Wednesday. The 23-year-old was the only American player to make the 30-woman nomination list.
For those who don’t know about the Ballon d’Or here’s a quick explanation. The annual award is given to the best women’s and men’s player in the world and is presented by France Football, a French news magazine. It’s the highest individual award a soccer player can earn.
In 2018 the Ballon d’Or Féminin was introduced to recognize the best women’s player.
The 2023 edition of the award looks at results and individual performances spanning from Aug. 1, 2022, through July 31, 2023.
Smith, who has been dominant in the National Women’s Soccer League, received a nomination.
Sophia Smith Ballon d’Or nomination
— Ballon d'Or #ballondor (@ballondor) September 6, 2023
Last year the nomination list featured three Americans (Catarina Macario, Alex Morgan and Trinity Rodman) however in 2023 only Smith makes the cut.
Smith 100% deserves to be among the best in the world after her incredible exploits. In 2022 she became the youngest player to be NWSL MVP, first player to win both the league MVP and Championship game MVP and scored 15 goals along the way.
She also scored six goals for the USWNT and was named the national team's Player of the Year during the Ballon d’Or timeframe.
Unfortunately for Smith it’s no secret that France Football doesn’t think too highly of the NWSL. The only time that an American player has finished in the top three of the Ballon d’Or rankings was in 2019 when Megan Rapinoe won the award and Morgan finished third. This was clearly for their performances in the 2019 World Cup.
Other than 2019, no woman playing their club ball outside of Europe has ever finished in the top three.
The 2023 winner will most likely be Spain and Barcelona star Aitana Bonmatí. In the 2022-23 campaign she won the UEFA Champions League, the World Cup, the Golden Ball for best player at the World Cup and just about everything else.