Carli Lloyd, Jill Ellis deserve FIFA awards, but American sweep isn't a lock

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Carli Lloyd, Jill Ellis deserve FIFA awards, but American sweep isn't a lock
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The United States women's national team could sweep both the FIFA World Player of the Year and the FIFA World Coach of the Year awards for 2015, following its Women's World Cup victory. Midfielder Carli Lloyd and head coach Jill Ellis were each shortlisted in their respective categories.

American star Lloyd was rightfully honored for her year. Aya Miyama of Japan and Germany's Celia Sasic were selected as well. But Lloyd seems like the obvious choice. She has arguably been the best player in the world since the 2012 Olympics, yet the voters – national team coaches and captains – have a funny habit of giving this award to the usual suspects.

In the 14 years this prize has been given out, just seven women have won it. Mia Hamm won the first two in 2001 and 2002. Then Germany's Birgit Prinz won it three times consecutively, followed by Brazil's Marta who claimed it five years in a row. Only in the last four years have four different players claimed the award, with Abby Wambach taking it in 2012 when U.S. coach Pia Sundhage also took the top prize.

For the USA's unmatched dominance – three Women's World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, both records – the Player of the Year award has a funny and inexplicable habit of eluding U.S. players. In spite of a dozen nominations in the 14 years the award has been given to women, it went to an American just three times even though the USA has had the best program overall during that span.

For some reason, it seems World Player of the Year is more of an individual prize on the women's side than the men's. Whereas the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are consistently judged on what they've done on their own as well as how their club and national teams have fared, the women are often graded mostly by their individual contributions. In the years when there was an Olympics or World Cup – by far the biggest competitions in the women's game – only three of six winners hailed from the winning team.

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As such, winning the Women's World Cup alone won't be enough for Lloyd to sew things up. Individually, she had a slow start to the tournament before building on her growing form – scoring on every single elimination game – and finally raging in the final with a hat trick within 16 minutes, including a goal from the halfway line.

All the same, she's had a better year than Miyama and Sasic. While Sasic scored six goals in Canada, leading the tournament with Lloyd, Germany fell to the Americans in the semifinals even though some considered them the favorites. Miyama captained and starred for Japan, but ultimately wasn't as influential in the outcomes of games as Lloyd.

U.S. women's head coach Jill Ellis was nominated for World Coach of the Year for leading the Americans to their third Women's World Cup title. She was joined in the final three by England's Mark Sampson and Norio Sasaki for leading Japan to a second straight World Cup final.

England's breakout third-place performance was certainly a laudable achievement. And Sasaki continues to one of women's soccer's great coaches. But Ellis fashioned world champions on short notice, taking the job just a year before the World Cup.

Although she was at times criticized for her team's stylistic appearance on the field, Ellis stayed the course and remained calm when the Americans failed to convince early in the tournament. And she was vindicated as they eventually dashed to the first U.S. title in 16 years.

She, too, would be the rightful winner.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.