Lynn Williams’ scorching start is just Lynn Williams being who she’s always been.
Since her 2015 debut, Williams has scored double-digit goals in all but three seasons. One of those seasons, she scored nine, another, seven. In fact, she has never had a season of fewer than eight combined goals and assists.
But for reasons that remain silly and inconsistently applied, Williams is not often thought of as one of the best goalscorers in the league, or world. The argument against begins with overinflating missed chances coupled with an overinflation of what pure speed can do on a soccer pitch.
Even when Williams is praised, her speed is almost used as a pejorative, as if her being fast is the sole reason for her being in position to score goals. While nine out of 10 cheetahs would lose to her in a 100m dash (it’s a verified scientific fact, we looked it up so you don’t have to), being fast isn’t enough to score consistently in professional soccer.
In the real world, Williams’ array of strikes, ability to dribble to either side of a defender, anticipation, and understanding of how to weaponize the threat of her speed to create space all make her a terror to defend. She also possesses terrific timing and is adept at finding the right moments to attack space, offensively and defensively.
“One of the things that Lynn is very special at, is she’s probably one of the best defenders from the attacking players,” said USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonvski ahead of last year’s SheBelieves Cup. “There is no hesitation when she goes into press, (she) drives the press, drives the intensity of the team, sets up a good rhythm.”
This season with her new team, Gotham FC, Williams has three goals in four games, four in five if you count her match winner versus the Spirit in the Challenge Cup. She also leads all forwards in tackles plus interceptions (16), which is the same number as North Carolina Courage defensive midfielder Denise O’Sullivan.
Last weekend, she scored her 60th regular season goal, tying 39-year-old international goalscoring GOAT Christine Sinclair, a player nine years her elder, who’s been playing in the league two years longer, also scored her 60th the same day.
Forwards who can do aggressive defensive work to help their teams across various styles of pressing while remaining constant goal threats are rare. In fact, in the NWSL there’s only been one: Lynn Mf’n Williams.