In front of a passionate home crowd, Perth Glory showed their championship bona fides in an impressive victory over defending W-League Champion, Melbourne City. It was Matilda star Sam Kerr who fired the opening salvo in the much anticipated grand final rematch, setting Perth on the path to a comprehensive 4-1 victory. The W-League season was barely 3-minutes old when Kerr got on the score sheet to continue a stellar year in 2017, that has seen the 24-year-old become a house hold name across Australia.
An ankle injury two years ago that nearly put an end to Kerr’s career has instead been the impetus for her rise into the upper echelon of players in the women’s game on the back of a 12-months of rare quality that saw her shortlisted for FIFA’s Women’s Footballer of the Year. One of the driving forces behind the Perth Glory’s charge to a Grand Final berth against Melbourne City in last season’s W-League, Kerr won the Julie Dolan Medal as player of the season while finishing second in the golden boot award.
After finishing her commitments with the Glory, she took her goal scoring exploits with her to Sky Blue FC in a record breaking season in the NWSL. In a league packed with the World’s best strikers, Kerr’s 17 goals from 22 games saw her run off with the golden boot award and the record for most goals in a single NWSL season.
If this wasn’t enough, Kerr also managed to break the records for most goals in a single game and in the history of the NWSL too. When she wasn’t scoring goals herself she was setting them up for her team mates, finishing the season in second place at Sky Blue FC for assists. With this kind of predatory success it was no wonder she was showered with accolades throughout the season. Kerr was recognised by the league with Player of the Week status three times, Player of the Month twice and selected to Team of the Month four times! As inevitable as Winx’s win in the Cox Plate, Kerr’s performances received it’s crowning glory when she was announced as NWSL MVP at season’s end.
On an incredible night against Seattle Reign, Kerr scored four goals to set the NWSL individual game goal scoring record. What made the effort even more incredible is that she did all the damage in the second half of the contest helping Sky Blue FC to recover from 0-3 half time deficit to record an extraordinary 5-4 victory.
As incredible as her efforts have been at club level, Kerr’s performances on the international stage have been another level entirely. In the Tournament of Nations played in July in the USA, Kerr announced herself and the Matildas as forces to reckon with in the years to come. On the back of four goals from Kerr, the Australians swept aside world powerhouses USA, Japan and Brazil to claim a famous victory. After drought breaking victories of World Champions USA, and Asian Champions Brazil, the Matildas put an exclamation mark on their title win with a 6-1 demolition of Brazil with Kerr providing 3 goals.
The only sour point in a year of highlights was the surprising outcome of FIFA’s Women’s Player of the Year voting. Despite being recognised as the MVP in one of the World’s elite league’s, Kerr was overlooked when the final shortlist of 3 was named by FIFA. The 2012 Player of the Year, Abby Wambach, was one of many pundits who shared their bewilderment at the decision. A sense of shock that was only intensified by the fact that Deyna Castellanos, a player yet to play in a major league or represent her country at a major tournament, was granted the honour denied Kerr.
While we should never be surprised by FIFA’s ability to come up with a ridiculous outcome, we were again left confused when the final votes for the award were released last week. While Casellanos running a long way third surprised nobody, the fact that Kerr finished in 10th with less than 5% of the vote is up there with the announcement of Qatar as host of the 2022 World Cup with it’s insanity. If there is some consolation to be had, Carli Lloyd, Captain of World Champions USA and FIFA Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, cast her vote for Kerr. If one of the best players in the game recognise Kerr’s brilliance it can only be a matter of time before the rest of the world does.
For Kerr, one of the most down to earth superstars there is, she has more pressing issues at hand. Her mind is set on helping the Glory go one step further in the W-League and helping the Matildas regain the Asian Championship in Jordan next year. One of the best players our country has produced, it is only a matter of time before she becomes the first Australian to be crowned FIFA’s Player of the Year.