Akers scored the first goal in the history of the U.S. women's national team in 1985 and scored 10 goals for the USA, including both goals in the final against Norway, to lead it to the 1991 Women's World Cup championship.
Akers battled through health issues, involving the Epstein-Barr virus, to help the USA win the first-ever gold medal awarded for women’s soccer at the 1996 Olympic Games. Later in her career, she moved from forward to midfield and led the USA to its second Women's World Cup title in 1999.
In 1998, Akers was awarded with FIFA Order of Merit for her positive contribution to the game, and she was named the co-winner along with Chinese star Sun Wen of FIFA's Women's Player of the Century to go along with men's co-winners Pele and Diego Maradona.
Akers, who finished a 15-year international playing career with 105 goals in 153 games, was described as “the best woman who has ever played the game” by her longtime coach, the late Tony DiCicco,
She was an All-American in high school at Seattle’s Shorecrest High School and a four-time All-American at Central Florida, winning the first Hermann Trophy and MAC Award, both awarded for the first time in 1988.
Akers today devotes most of her time to operating the Michelle Akers Horse Rescue and Outreach in Powder Springs, Georgia. The nonprofit is dedicated to the caring of abandoned horses and other abused or unwanted animals. She continues to train players and each summer hosts the Michelle Akers Farm Tough Soccer Camp in Powder Springs.
Previous recipients of the Chyzowych playing career award were Landon Donovan, the inaugural recipient in 2017, and members of the USA’s five-a-side teams that won the silver and bronze medals at the 1992 and 1989 FIFA world championships, respectively. They were honored this year.