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FourFourTwo's USWNT Top 50: No. 7 – Lynn Williams

After a run of midfielders went to No. 8 on our USWNT Top 50 countdown, a stretch of forwards kicks into gear with the 2016 NWSL MVP:

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Lynn Williams came out of Pepperdine with a reputation as one of the fastest players on the board for the 2015 NWSL Draft. Few realized she would also be quick when it came to making her mark on the national team less than two years later. On Oct. 19, against Switzerland, Williams made her international debut and 49 seconds later had her first goal. It was the fastest goal from the start of a U.S. career ever (a mark that would last four days until Kealia Ohai bested it by one second.)

The goal against Switzerland marked a culmination of year which began with questions hanging over Williams’ head. The No. 6 pick in 2015 showed promise as rookie with four goals and four assists, but she also cut her season short to have microfracture surgery on her knee. It is a procedure that has taken down careers far more prominent than Williams’.

The now 23-year-old finished her rehab in time to be going full bore at the end of Flash preseason. After that, she took her game to new heights, not only making dangerous runs using her speed but also showing an ability to fight through defenders for precious position and set up teammates for open shots. Missing only one game, Williams collected 11 goals and five assists (the latter earning her the NWSL’s golden boot on a tiebreaker from Ohai). That was just the start, though.

On Oct. 2, Williams scored two times in extra time to help the Flash upset the Portland Thorns in the NWSL semifinal. Four days later, at NWSL Championship Media Day, Williams calmly and thoughtfully addressed the press in the hours after being named league MVP and part of Jill Ellis’ next camp in the span of a few hours.

Still, the best was yet to come. After assisting on Sam Mewis’ opener in the NWSL Championship, Williams saved the Flash’s season by soaring high for a header that tied the match in the dying moments of stoppage time. A few minutes later, her cheeky penalty conversion keyed what was an unlikely championship run.

In a year that saw the national team’s attack stagnate on multiple occasions, Williams appears to possess all of the tools necessary for an extended run in the squad.

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