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NWSL award nominees: Sam Kerr, Kristen Hamilton among MVP finalists

North Carolina Courage lead the pack with six nominees in all categories.

Bridgeview, IL - Saturday April 20, 2019: 2019 NWSL regular season home opener between the Chicago Red Stars and the Portland Thorns FC at SeatGeek Stadium. (ISI Photos: Dan Bartel)

The Shield-winning North Carolina Courage and the Chicago Red Stars continued their National Women’s Soccer League dominance, with players from both teams making up the nominees for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

The nominees for the award, along with the league’s other year-end awards, were announced Thursday.

Sam Kerr — the 2017 MVP — was nominated after an 18-goal season for the Red Stars. She is joined by teammate Yuki Nagasato, and the Courage’s Debinha, Kristen Hamilton and Lynn Williams. Williams was the 2016 NWSL MVP.

Both teams also boast nominees for Defender of the Year, with the Courage’s Abby Erceg and Jaelene Hinkle making the cut along with the Red Stars’ Casey Short. Reign FC’s Lauren Barnes joins them, as does Utah Royals FC’s Becky Sauerbrunn.

Overall, the Courage have six individuals nominated for awards, including head coach Paul Riley. Along with Riley, Reign FC’s Vlatko Andonovski and Washington Spirit’s Richie Burke were among Coach of the Year finalists.

The Reign and the Spirit both have four nominees, followed by the Red Stars’ three. Both the Royals and Sky Blue FC have one nominee each.

The final round of voting runs from Oct. 17 to Oct. 22, and includes voting for the league’s Best XI and Second XI. Players, owners, general managers, coaches, members of the media, and supporters make up the voting body.

Here are the nominees for the 2019 NWSL awards:

MVP: Debinha (North Carolina Courage), Kristen Hamilton (North Carolina Courage), Sam Kerr, (Chicago Red Stars), Yuki Nagasato (Chicago Red Stars), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

Defender of the Year: Lauren Barnes (Reign FC), Abby Erceg (North Carolina Courage), Jaelene Hinkle (North Carolina Courage), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)

Goalkeeper of the Year: Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (Reign FC), Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue FC)

Rookie of the Year: Bethany Balcer (Reign FC), Jordan DiBiasi (Washington Spirit), Sam Staab (Washington Spirit)

Coach of the Year: Vlatko Andonovski (Reign FC), Richie Burke (Washington Spirit), Paul Riley (North Carolina Courage)

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