Analysis

The new paradigm: Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr might be the best player on earth

ISI Photos-Andy Mead
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Soon, Kerr’s goals will start overshadowing the all-around game she flashed earlier this season. For Holly and Sky Blue, though, they’re already obscuring the most valuable part of Kerr’s presence.

“I think it’s been well documented about the direction this club has gone in, and how we’ve tried to resuscitate it and change its direction, and change the culture,” Holly says, explaining Sky Blue was “the club that nobody wanted to hear anything about” before last season. “Sam is one of the key pieces behind that [turnaround]… She invests time in getting to know teammates, and trying to be around them and understand them. It’s such an incredible trait.”

The anecdotes Holly offers about Kerr’s attitude seem endless. Her humility and unwillingness to accept praise are key traits to a player who wants to improve. And loathe to have attention drawn to her, Kerr recently kicked Holly in the leg when the coach tried to honor her NWSL record at practice.

In Holly’s view, Kerr makes every player on Sky Blue better, combining her world-class talents with a work ethic and desire to be a great teammate that may be unmatched by any other star. To him, that informs any ‘best player in the world’ discussion.

“This is my way of looking at what we consider ‘best player in the world,’” Holly explains. “There are players who can affect themselves and step up and play here or there, but then we have these personalities, these players who can affect players next to them … For me, that’s the definition of a world-class player, and that’s where Sam’s at right now. There are parts of her game that have to improve, absolutely. And she’s more aware of that than anyone. But when you have the ability to make people next to you better, it’s a huge part of being one of the best players in the world.”

Based on numbers, form, the eye test and performance relative to her peers, Kerr at least deserves a place in the discussion of world’s best. To the extent you can prove anything on a year’s production is debatable, especially two years out from a World Cup. But not every question needs to have an answer. When it comes to the best player in the world question, Sam Kerr has become an option.

Provided you don’t ask her.

“Footballers know that things like this come and go,” she says. “Obviously it’s nice, right now, because sometimes you don’t get the recognition, or you’re not playing well.

“I would never sit down and say, ‘Yeah, I agree with being the best in the world,’ but it’s obviously nice that people say that … but I definitely don’t sit here and think about those things.”

For one of her closest observers, though, Kerr’s potential still transcends what we can imagine.

“It’s up to Sam what she wants to do with this game,” according to Holly. “The game won’t decide for her. Sam will decide for the game.”

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