Best Soccer Players of 2018
POSTED ON DECEMBER 27, 2018
Who were 2018’s best soccer players? We’re glad you asked. It was a sparkling year for soccer, with 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ won by France and qualifying for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France™, Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League three-peat, Manchester City’s momentous Premier League performance and Atlanta United’s MLS Cup conquest.
Amid it all, a few standouts rose to the top and earned accolades in the form of 2018 Best Soccer Player awards from SOCCER.COM.
The envelopes please …
1) Best Women’s Soccer Player: Alex Morgan
Finalists: Lindsey Horan, Ada Hegerberg and Megan Rapinoe
Eighteen goals in 19 matches, with seven in just four games. A few of our favorite 2018 goals by Alex Morgan include the Tournament of Nations hat trick and the final goal to win the CONCACAF Women’s Championship aka qualifying for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France™.
In addition to grabbing goals, Morgan scooped the 2018 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year award, and our nod for the best women’s player of 2018. Hat tip to inaugural Ballon d’Or winner, Ada Hegerberg, whose class is endless and to Lindsey Horan, the NWSL MVP. Just as meaningful, Mia Hamm recently told SOCCER.COM that she’d liked to have played alongside Horan.
2) Best Male Soccer Player: Luka Modric
Finalists: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe
We get it Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi fans, Luka Modric lacks the superhuman powers of your favorite players, but even the Michael Jordans of the world can’t win every MVP trophy. Consider Luka Modric our Karl Malone here — humble, skilled and a perfect sidekick.
The creative Croatian and Real Madrid man navigated an unprecedented and magical run to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ final, and steered Los Blancos to back-to-back-to-back UEFA Champions League crowns. Yup, three-in-a-row.
He rightly was awarded with FIFA Best Men’s Player honors and the first Ballon d’Or not belonging to CR7 or Messi since Kaka in 2007.
Now, Modric can add SOCCER.COM’s Best Male Player of 2018 to his trophy case.
3) Best American Soccer Player: Christian Pulisic
Finalists: Alex Morgan, Lindsey Horan and Zach Steffen
Some might argue that, given the match of which we shall not speak in Trinidad and Tobago, 2018 was a lost year for the USMNT. Not so. We’ll remember it as the year that Christian Pulisic took the captain’s armband for the Stars and Stripes, becoming the youngest in the team’s history to be appointed, breaking Landon Donovan’s mark.
Pulisic was a leader in a time of transition, and the fulcrum that powers the squad forward.
At club level, he helped Borussia Dortmund to the top of the Bundesliga table, six points ahead of Bayern Munich at the new year. All of it saw the kid from Hershey, Pa. finish second to only FIFA World Cup™ winner Kylian Mbappe in the first ever Kopa Trophy, which goes to the globe’s best teenage player.
4) Best Goal Scorer: Josef Martinez
Finalists: Mohamed Salah, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
With all due respect to the European elites who fire past goalkeepers on the regular, no one was more prolific in 2018 than Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez.
He smashed the Major League Soccer all-time single-season record with ease, chipping and starring down Orlando City’s Joe Bednik to reach 28 goals with eight games to spare.
Martinez ended up with a total 35 goals in 39 matches, including the playoffs.
The 25-year-old Venezuelan sensation won the regular season MLS MVP, the MLS All-Star Game MVP and the MLS Cup MVP, where he bagged the winner.
5) Best Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker
Finalists; David de Gea, Manuel Neuer and Jan Oblak
Jurgen Klopp apologized for running on the pitch to celebrate Liverpool FC’s last-gasp goal in the Merseyside Derby, claiming it happened before he could think. Make no mistake, though, there’s a reason he ran to Alisson, his prized goalkeeper.
Jurgen’s beloved Brazilian brick wall set a world-record when the Anfield outfit outlaid £65m on him last summer, a talking point at the time. Now he seems like a bargain.
“If I knew Alisson was this good, I would have paid more,” Klopp said after another game-changing stop and clean sheet that sent LFC through to the UEFA Champions League Knockout Rounds.
In 19 Premier League starts, Alisson has earned 12 clean sheets, and conceded just six goals. He cemented the foundation on which the Reds’ run to the top of the table has been built. We give him two gloves up.