A lot has changed since Megan Rapinoe hoisted the Women’s World Cup Golden Boot. Who will win it this year?
The Women’s World Cup Golden Boot is one of many individual honors a player at this year’s global tournament can win. The others include the Golden Ball, the Best Young Player, and the Golden Gloves given to the goalkeeper that stood out the most on the world stage.
Since 1991 when China hosted the World Cup, FIFA has distributed some pieces of silverware to the player who netted the most goals across the entire tournament. The competition also recognizes the players who finished with the second-most and third-most goals, giving those players the “Silver Boot”, and the “Bronze Boot” respectively.
Before it was called what it is today, the soccer world knew this award to be the “Golden Shoe” until 2011 in Germany when FIFA altered the name. It lined up closely with the name change on the men’s side where the association choose to move to the “Golden Boot” for the 2010 Men’s World Cup.
The United States, Brazil, and Germany have the most athletes that have won the award with two. For the USWNT, Michelle Akers took home the honor in 1991 and most recently Megan Rapinoe in 2019. Akers still holds the record for most goals in a FIFA Women’s World Cup with 10, netting an astounding five goals in one game against Chinese Taipei on November 24, 1991. When FIFA last dished out the award, it came down to a tie-breaker where three different players were knotted at six goals apiece.
Rapinoe beat out her teammate Alex Morgan and now former English international Ellen White because of her assist total and the fact that she accomplished the task in fewer minutes on the pitch. Rapinoe and Morgan became the third pair of teammates to secure both the Golden and Silver Boots in the same World Cup, joining Birgit Prinz and Maren Meinert for the Germans in 2003, and the Norwegian duo of Ann Kristin Aarones and Hege Riise who did it in Sweden in 1995.
No country or player has won it in consecutive World Cups. In three out of the last five tournaments, the team that had the winner of this award was the last side standing. The Americans have had a player finish in the top three in total goals in the past four World Cups.
Who could hoist the Golden Boot down under in August this summer?
Even with Mallory Swanson out due to an injury suffered against the Republic of Ireland back in April, the USWNT still has two worthy candidates for the award in Portland Thorns’ young superstar Sophia Smith, and veteran Alex Morgan.
Last summer’s Golden Boot winner in the Women’s Euros, Beth Mead torn her ACL in late November with Arsenal, leaving a void up top that the English must find a way to fill. The Manchester United attacker Alessia Russo is a solid shout for someone who has the capabilities to do it. Pia Sundhage and Brazil have a plethora of goal-scoring prowess throughout its roster including Kansas City Current midfielder Debinha, and Barcelona standout Geyse along with many others.
With 16 goals and five assists in the Frauen-Bundesliga for Wolfsburg this past campaign, Alexandra Popp is someone to keep an eye on. The German netted the same amount of goals as Mead last summer in the Euros. With her home fans behind her, Sam Kerr, the Australian and Chelsea star will be motivated to propel her nation past the round of 16 for the first time since 2015. In order to win this award, one most likely has to be on a team that makes ideally into the final eight of the tournament.
For the first time ever, the Women’s World Cup will include 32 countries instead of 24 which it included in 2015 and 2019, making the race for the Golden Boot and even more intriguing one as the competition unfolds.
Prediction for 2023 Women’s World Cup:
Golden Boot: Sam Kerr, Australia (8 goals)
Silver Boot: Sophia Smith, United States (6 goals)
Bronze Boot: Alexandra Popp, Germany (6 goals)
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