Michelle Akers

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Michelle Akers
Personal information
Full name Michelle Anne Akers
Date of birth (1966-02-01) February 1, 1966 (age 48)
Place of birth Santa Clara, California, United States
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Midfielder, forward
Youth career
1985–1988 UCF Knights
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1990 Tyresö FF
1992 Tyresö FF
1994 Tyresö FF
National team
1985–2000 United States 153 (105)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Michelle Anne Akers (born February 1, 1966) is a former leading American soccer player, who starred in the historic 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup victory by the United States. She won the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the 1991 tournament. She is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and was named FIFA Female Player of the Century.

Early life[edit]

Born to Robert and Anne Akers in Santa Clara, California, Akers grew up in a suburb of Seattle, Washington, where she attended and played soccer for Shorecrest High School.[1] She was named an All-American three times during her high school career.[1] At 5 feet, 10 inches in height and 150 pounds, Akers had an imposing physical presence on the soccer field and was noted for her aggressive and physical style of play.[2]

University of Central Florida[edit]

Akers attended the University of Central Florida on a scholarship where she was selected as four-time NCAA All-American.[1] She was Central Florida's Athlete of the Year in 1988–89, the all-time leading scorer in UCF history,[1] won the Hermann Trophy in 1988,[1] and had her #10 jersey retired by the school.

Playing career[edit]

International[edit]

Akers was a member of the 1985 United States women's national soccer team for its first game at a tournament in Italy in August 1985. Due to an ankle injury, she did not play in the first game. However, in the second ever international game for the United States she scored the first goal in the history of the program against Denmark, in a 2–2 tie.[3]

Akers scored 15 goals in 24 games for the U.S. from 1985 to 1990 before scoring a team record 39 goals in 26 games in the 1991 season alone. In 1990 and 1991 she was named the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Female Athlete of the Year.[1] Akers was also the lead scorer in the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup in China in 1991, scoring ten goals, including five in one game.[1] This led the U.S. women's team to the first women's world championship, defeating Norway 2–1. Akers scored both goals in the finals.

Utterly exhausted after the World Cup, Akers was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome in the spring of 1994 which could have started in late 1991 and of which she never fully recovered. She learned to manage her diet and training habits, and was shifted to the midfield in part to minimize the beatings doled out by opposing defenders. Despite the precautions, Akers suffered a concussion and a knee injury early in the 1995 World Cup, and was hampered by the knee in a semifinal loss to Norway.[4][5]

In 1996, Akers was again a member of the U.S. women's national team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where it won the gold medal. She was also a member of the gold-medal-winning, 1998 Goodwill Games team. On June 7, 1998, she was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit, their highest honor, for her contributions to the game of soccer. Akers again was part of the 1999 Women's World Cup team, leading to a second World Cup championship.

Shortly before the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Akers retired from the game as the U.S. national team's second all-time leading scorer (behind Mia Hamm) with 105 goals, 37 assists and 247 points.[6]

International career statistics[edit]

Nation Year International appearances
Apps Starts Minutes Goals Assists
United States 1985 2 2 180 2 0
1986 5 5 420 0 0
1987 9 8 720 3 0
1988 2 2 180 0 1
1990 6 5 425 9 1
1991 26 25 1941 39 8
1993 12 12 887 6 6
1994 12 7 571 11 7
1995 18 17 1195 15 5
1996 17 16 1246 7 3
1997 2 2 180 1 0
1998 15 15 929 5 4
1999 20 18 1334 6 1
2000 7 3 242 1 0
Career total 14 153 137 10450 105 36

Matches and goals scored at World Cup and Olympic tournaments[edit]

Michelle Akers competed as a member of USA teams in three FIFA Women's World Cup: China 1991, Sweden 1995 and USA 1999; and one Olympics: Atlanta 1996; played in 18 matches and scored 13 goals at those four global tournaments.[7] Akers was a goal medalist at Atlanta 1996 Olympics, and world champion at China 1991 and USA 1999 world cup tournaments. Akers with team USA finished third at Sweden 1995 world cup.

Goal Match Date Location Opponent Lineup Min Score Result Competition
China China 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup
1
1991-11-17[m 1] Panyu  Sweden Start

3–2 W

Group stage
1
2
1991-11-19[m 2] Panyu  Brazil Start 39 4–0

5–0 W

Group stage
2
3
1991-11-21[m 3] Foshan  Japan {{{4}}}.

off 41' (on Lilly)

20 1–0

3–0 W

Group stage
3
37 2–0
4
4
1991-11-24[m 4] Foshan  Chinese Taipei Start 8 1–0

7–0 W

Quarter-final
5
29 2–0
6
33 3–0
7
44 pk 5–0
8
48 6–0
5
1991-11-27[m 5] Guangzhou  Germany Start

5–2 W

Semifinal
9
6
1991-11-30[m 6] Guangzhou  Norway Start 20 1–0

2–1 W

Final
10
79 2–1
Sweden Sweden 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup
7
1995-06-06[m 7] Gävle  China PR {{{4}}}.

off 18' (on Milbrett)

3–3 D

Group stage
8
1995-06-15[m 8] Västerås  Norway Start

0–1 L

Semifinal
United States Atlanta 1996 Olympic Women's Football Tournament
9
1996-07-21[m 9] Orlando  Denmark {{{4}}}.

off 62' (on Parlow)

3–0 W

Group stage
10
1996-07-23[m 10] Orlando  Sweden Start

2–1 W

Group stage
11
1996-07-25[m 11] Miami  China PR Start

0–0 D

Group stage
11
12
1996-07-28[m 12] Athens  Norway Start 76 pk 1–1

r 2–1 aet

Semifinal
13
1996-08-01[m 13] Athens  China PR Start

2–1 W

Gold medal match
United States USA 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup
14
1999-06-19[m 14] E Rutherford  Denmark Start

3–0 W

Group stage
12
15
1999-06-24[m 15] Chicago  Nigeria {{{4}}}.

off 45' (on Fair)

39 5–1

7–1 W

Group stage
16
1999-07-01[m 16] Washington  Germany Start

3–2 W

Quarter-final
13
17
1999-07-04[m 17] San Francisco  Brazil Start 80 pk 2–0

2–0 W

Semifinal
18
1999-07-10[m 18] Los Angeles  China PR {{{4}}}.

off 91' (on Whalen)

0–0 (pso 5–4) (W)

Final

After soccer[edit]

Since her retirement, she has continued to promote the game of soccer and has written several books, including one that documents her battle with chronic fatigue syndrome.

In 2002, she was voted FIFA Female Player of the Century, an award she shared with China's Sun Wen.[8][9]

In 2004, she and Mia Hamm were the only two women named to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living soccer players selected by Pelé and commissioned by FIFA for that organization's 100th anniversary. Also in 2004, Akers was inducted, along with Paul Caligiuri and Eric Wynalda, into the US National Soccer Hall of Fame.

She currently lives with her husband Steve Eichenblatt, an attorney who represented her in her rehabilitation lawsuits against the USSF after her retirement, and their son Cody, who was born in 2005 in Orlando, Florida. Akers now resides in Powder Springs, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, and dedicates herself to rescuing horses.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Schafer, Elizabeth D (2002) [1992]. Dawson, Dawn P, ed. Great Athletes 1 (Revised ed.). Salem Press. pp. 26–28. ISBN 1-58765-008-8. 
  2. ^ Miller, Marla All-American Girls New York: Pocket Books, 1999, pp. 14–15.
  3. ^ "US WNT Flashback -- 20th Anniversary of First-Ever Match: Who Scored First?" http://www.ussoccer.com/News/Womens-National-Team/2005/08/U-S-WNT-Flashback-20th-Anniversary-Of-First-Ever-Match-Who-Scored-First.aspx, accessed October 3, 2012.
  4. ^ Michelle Akers Biography http://www.biography.com/people/michelle-akers-21321911#national-superstar
  5. ^ Michelle Akers enjoying life after soccer http://www.cfs-info.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=712&Itemid=79
  6. ^ Alexander, Valerie. "World Cup Soccer Stats Erase The Sport's Most Dominant Players: Women". Jezebel.com. 
  7. ^ "FIFA Player Statistics: Michelle AKERS". FIFA. 
  8. ^ "Michelle Akers Named FIFA Player of the Century". US Soccer. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  9. ^ "FIFA names Akers ‘Player of the Century.’". ESPN. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  10. ^ Wahl, Grant, "Green Acres", Sports Illustrated, July 4, 2011, pp. 98–101.
Match reports

Further reading[edit]

  • Akers, M.; Lewis, G. (2000), The Game and the Glory, Zondervan, ISBN 0310700256
  • Grainey, Timothy (2012), Beyond Bend It Like Beckham: The Global Phenomenon of Women's Soccer, University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0803240368
  • Kassouf, Jeff (2011), Girls Play to Win Soccer, Norwood House Press, ISBN 1599534649
  • LaFontaine, P.; Valutis, E.; Griffin, C.; Weisman, L. (2001), Companions in Courage: Triumphant Tales of Heroic Athletes, Hatchette Digital Inc., ISBN 0759520518
  • Lisi, Clemente A. (2010), The U.S. Women's Soccer Team: An American Success Story, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0810874164
  • Longman, Jere (2009), The Girls of Summer: The U.S. Women's Soccer Team and How it Changed the World, HarperCollins, ISBN 0061877689
  • Mitchell, N.; Ennis, L. (2007) Encyclopedia of Title IX and Sports, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0313335877
  • Rutledge, Rachel (2000), The Best of the Best in Soccer, First Avenue Editions, ISBN 0761313923
  • Silverman, Al (2004), It's Not Over 'til it's Over, Penguin, ISBN 1468304313

External links[edit]