The USWNT has a frontline that is stacked and full of potential. The likes of Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are known quantities but it’s Sophia Smith who will be the barometer of just how far this team can go at the World Cup. Smith has been a rising star for both club and country over the last two years and as one of the guaranteed starters at this summer’s tournament, we’re all taking a deep breath and waiting for her to “go off!”
Smith has been a name synonymous with success from her collegiate days up until now. With the Stanford Cardinals, she was a key member of the 2019 team that won the NCAA Tournament and when she decided to go professional after that, there were no shortage of takers ready to sign her.
They knew that despite her age at the time, Sophia Smith would be a star and any team lucky enough to get her, would benefit from her talents for a long, long time.
She was drafted by the Portland Thorns in 2020 as the first overall pick but could not truly show what she could do at that level until 2021, where she finished the season with seven goals and a NWSL Shield to her name. Smith took her game to another level in 2022, finishing the season as the NWSL MVP and the Championship MVP after her sterling performances during the regular season and in the NWSL Championship.
With the USWNT, Smith first made her debut in 2020 and has gone from strength to strength since then, just as she has in the NWSL. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski has looked to her to be one of his starting forwards and she has repaid that trust, by either scoring goals or creating opportunities for her teammates.
What makes Sophia Smith so great, and such a talent to watch, is not just her speed, which is lightning quick; but her ability as a striker. She has the awareness to be in the right place at the right time, she has the upper body strength to hold off a defender or ride a tackle as she speeds toward goal, and mostly importantly, she knows how to find the back of the net. Add to that the ability to glide past defenders with ease and to be able to beat her marker in one-on-one situations, make Sophia Smith one of, if not the most important player for the USWNT this summer.
Don’t let her age fool you. Sophia Smith plays with the self-belief of a 10 year veteran but with the audacity of the generation she’s from, an unwillingness to back down from any challenge or player, no matter what name is on the back of their shirt. It’s Sophia Smith’s time to shine and she has the confidence to do it. Look to her when the USWNT will need her the most because she can, and will, produce when called upon.