The 2010s in women’s soccer were dominated by two teams: the United States women’s national team and Olympique Lyonnais, so it should be no surprise the Sporting News All-Decade team in the sport is dominated by those two, as well.
Of the 11 players chosen, only one did not appear for either side between 2010 and 2019. And it should be no surprise that the player gifted enough to earn her way onto this team without representing the USWNT or Lyon would be the great Marta, perhaps the best female player of all time.
Lyon won France’s first division all 10 years and the UEFA Champions League six times, including each of the past four years. The USWNT won the World Cup in 2015 and 2019, the Olympic Games in 2012 and finished second at the 2011 World Cup.
Many of the players who made those teams great made this great team:
Forward: Ada Hegerberg, forward, Olympique Lyonnais, Norway national team
Why she's here: Hegerberg is a majestic talent whose impact on the game has somewhat been hidden from view, in part because she chose not to join her national team at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She did score three goals at the 2015 event, though, her first major world tournament. With Lyon, however, she has established herself as the world’s best current player. With Lyon winning four consecutive UEFA Champions League titles, five consecutive league titles and four of the past five Coupe de France tourneys, Hegerberg scored 197 goals across 164 appearances in those three competitions. She won the Ballon d’Or in 2018.
Forward: Marta, Orlando Pride, Brazil
Why she's here: Marta has been so great for so long it’s easy to forget that she accomplished so much in the 2010s. It was in the prior decade that she was able to lead Brazil to three consecutive major world finals, at the 2007 World Cup and 2004 and 2008 Olympics. But she has remained a dominant figure in world soccer since, scoring in each of this decade’s three World Cups to become the first player ever to register a goal in five separate World Cups. In the now-defunct U.S. pro league WPS, she won consecutive championships with two different clubs. She reached the Champions League final with Sweden’s Tyreso FF. And she has scored 23 goals in 55 appearances with Orlando since 2017.
Forward: Alex Morgan, Orlando Pride, United States
Why she's here: With the great Abby Wambach still the key to the United States attack in the early part of this decade, Morgan had to basically force her way into the spotlight — which she did with two essential goals in the opening group-game victory over France at the 2012 Olympics. She contributed key assists in subsequent matches and scored the game-winner in the heated semifinal against Canada, then assisted on one of Carli Lloyd’s two goals in the gold-medal victory over Japan. Morgan had established herself as a worthy successor to Wambach, thus far scoring 107 goals in 169 appearances for the U.S. She won U.S. league titles in 2011 and 2013, and the Champions League in a short-term appearance with Lyon in 2016-17.
Midfielder: Amandine Henry, Olympique Lyonnais, France
Why she's here: Henry has excelled as a defensive midfielder in top professionally leagues on both continents, earning five Champions League titles with Lyon sandwiched around one season with Portland in the NWSL, where she made 10 appearances for the team that finished first in the 2016 regular season and 23 for the 2017 team that won the league championship. France’s misfortune to meet the U.S. in the World Cup quarterfinals probably kept her from at least a runner-up medal at the 2019 World Cup — no one played the U.S. better, in part because of Henry’s contributions — but she earned the Silver Ball at the 2015 World Cup even with France losing in the quarters then, as well.
Midfielder/forward: Megan Rapinoe, Seattle Reign, United States
Why she's here: Rapinoe became an international sensation with her six goals at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, earning the Golden Boot, the Golden Ball and her second winner’s medal. But she’d been making an enormous impact on the USWNT from the very start of the decade, when her pinpoint cross in the dying moments of the 2011 World Cup semifinal against Brazil was headed home by Abby Wambach to tie the game and force it to penalty kicks, where the U.S. won to advance to the final. She contributed key goals at the 2012 Olympics and 2015 World Cup. At the front left of the Americans’ 4-3-3 formation at the 2019 World Cup, she occasionally looked like her speed and stamina were not what they’d been — but her skill was more polished than ever. Her contributions to the Americans’ victory led to her winning the Ballon d’Or.
Midfielder/forward: Carli Lloyd, Sky Blue FC, United States
Why she's here: Throughout her time with the USWNT, Lloyd has demonstrated a gift for playing her best in the biggest moment. It began when she scored the gold-winner in extra time at the 2008 Olympics, but it accelerated when she scored both goals in the gold-medal game at the 2012 Olympics and when she dominated the final of the 2015 World Cup. Her brilliant performances in the closing stages of the 2015 tournament — she scored the game-winner in the semifinal against Germany and a hat-trick against Japan in the final — led to her winning FIFA women’s player of the year honors in 2015, and she repeated in 2016. She also won the FA Cup as a member of Manchester City in 2016-17. After playing much of her career as an attacking midfielder, she moved to forward for the U.S. at the 2019 World Cup and scored twice off the bench in group play.
Midfielder: Dzenifer Maroszan, Olympique Lyonnaise, Germany
Why she's here: Maroszan’s extraordinary playmaking was at the heart of Germany’s triumph at the 2016 Olympics and the 2013 European Championships, as well as the past three Champions League winners for Lyon. She scored her first international goal in 2012 in qualifying for the 2013 Euros, then an additional 31 in 97 caps. She was named the French league’s player of the year in 2017, named to the women’s world team selected by IFFHS the past three years and was nominated for women’s world player of the year in 2016.
Defender: Wendie Renard, Olympique Llyonnaise, France
Why she's here: Because of her size and agility, Renard may be the most productive defender ever to play women’s soccer. She has scored 66 goals in 13 seasons with Lyon — including a double-figure season in 2014-15 — and an additional 19 international goals playing for France. She scored four goals at the 2019 World Cup, including a second-half header against the U.S. in the quarterfinals that made the final minutes of that game nervy for the Americans. She won six Champions League titles with Lyon and has been selected to the IFFHS world team each of the past three years.
Defender: Becky Sauerbrunn, Utah Royals, United States
Why she's here: At the 2011 World Cup, Sauerbrunn made only a single appearance, filling in for a suspended Rachel Buehler in the Americans’ 3-1 semifinal victory over France. And maybe she should have stayed in the lineup for the final, because Sauerbrunn now has played in 14 World Cup games and compiled a record of 13-0-1. The U.S. allowed a total of seven goals in those games. She is not an overwhelming physical presence, at 5-7, is not a threat on set pieces and never has scored for the U.S. in 171 caps. She wins, though, because she rarely puts a foot wrong, understands how to fracture opposing attacks and assures those around her stay in line.
Defender/midfielder: Saki Kumaji, Olympique Lyonnaise, Japan
Why she's here: If you don’t remember who delivered the final blow to the United States’ dream of winning the 2011 Women’s World Cup, well, here’s a refresher. At 20, Kumaji started in central defense for Japan and scored the clinching penalty kick. By 24, she had played in four major world finals for her country by adding second-place finishes at the 2012 Olympics and 2015 World Cup to her resume. As happens with so many world greats, she was recruited to play for Lyon. She has spent six seasons as a regular starter with the club, scoring 35 goals in all competitions and winning the Champions League four times.
Goalkeeper: Hope Solo, Seattle Reign, United States (inactive)
Why she's here: Solo could stop shots like no goalkeeper before her (or since), and her consistency in goal helped the U.S. to win the 2012 Olympic gold medal as well as the 2015 World Cup. She shut out three consecutive opponents in the knockout rounds in 2015 before allowing in two relatively meaningless goals in the final against Japan. She won the Golden Glove award for top goalkeeper at both the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, as well as the 2011 bronze ball awarded to the tournament’s third-best player.