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Is Sophia Smith the Next Star for the USWNT?

Is Sophia Smith the next star for the USWNT? The young forward is playing in her third season with the Portland Thorns and has already accomplished a lot in just two years in the league. To top it off, she has been one of USWNT’s best players since 2021, paving the way for the next generation player for the U.S. 

Before Sophia Smith became professional, she attended Stanford University. She played two seasons with the women’s soccer team, scoring 24 goals in 33 appearances. In 2019, she led the Cardinals to their third ever National Championship. This followed scoring a hattrick against UCLA in the semifinals and winning on penalties against 21-time winners the North Carolina.

She elected to turn professional in January of 2020, entering the NWSL draft. She was the number two overall pick and was selected by the Portland Thorns. With COVID-19 cancelling the 2020 season, she officially began her career in the NWSL in 2021. Smith appeared in 21 games and scored seven goals in her first full season with the Thorns. 

At the same time, she made her first appearances for the senior USWNT at the end of 2020. She made nine appearances in 2021, scoring just one goal. However, her sophomore season was the forward’s breakout year. With the Thorns, she totaled 14 goals and broke a record for being the youngest player to get 14 goals. She also scored 11 goals with the USWNT in 2022. 

Sophia Smith led the Thorns to the club’s first NWSL title since 2017, and their third overall. She took a load of hardware concluding her 2022 season, including: NWSL Title, NWSL MVP, NWSL Finals MVP, U.S Soccer Female Player of the Year, SheBelieves Cup and the CONCACAF Women’s Championship. She was also the youngest player since Mia Hamm in 1994 to win U.S female Player of the Year award 

At just 22 years old, Smith has accomplished a whole lot, and is nowhere near slowing down. She already has four goals in her first two games to open the 2023 NWSL season. This included her first ever professional hat-trick last weekend against the Kansas City Current.

The USWNT will be a good hands once it comes time for Alex Morgan to retire. Morgan’s been the face of the USWNT for years, totaling 121 goals in 204 appearances while winning two World Cups. Most of the golden era of the USWNT have already hung up their boots, including Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach. Ali Krieger is also retiring after the end of this season, with Megan Rapinoe also on her way to the end of her career. 

Not only is Sophia Smith an icon for young female soccer players, but she represents people of color, coming from African-American and Native American descent. Performing at an elite status against players she has looked up to, the 22-year-old has been humbled by all the awards she has won and will continue to push herself to be one of the best players in international soccer. 

“Obviously this is surreal, and I’m super humbled, It’s been a very exciting year, and certainly there’s been some challenges, but just being able to grow and develop in the environments with the national team and the Thorns, and being surrounded by such amazing players, players that I have looked up to for so long, has pushed me to become a better player and person,” Smith said after accepting her U.S Female Player of the Year Award.  

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