Ahead of CONCACAF W Championship, the US women’s soccer national team features a profound local flare – Greeley Tribune

Geographically, Sophia Smith’s home turf is an outlier, relatively speaking, among the wealth of native Coloradans dotting the roster of the United States women’s national team.

Smith’s teammates on the nation’s most prestigious women’s soccer team make sure to give her some good-natured ribbing about it as frequently as possible.

Soccer fans will enjoy a chance to watch the best of the best Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, as the USWNT takes on Colombia (5:30 pm, FS1) in the first of two tune-up matches ahead of the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship , which begins July 4 in Mexico.

The tournament also serves as a qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as the 2024 Paris Olympics. The roster on display Saturday at the home of the Colorado Rapids will feature a distinct Centennial State flavor. In addition to Smith, who calls Windsor home, the roster includes national team veterans Mallory Pugh (Highlands Ranch) and Lindsey Horan (Golden).

Another player with Windsor roots, Jaelin Howell – winner of the 2021 Hermann Award at Florida State as the top collegiate player in the nation – was named to the roster for training camp and the two friendlies against Colombia. Also set to make her national team debut is Taylor Kornieck, who enjoyed a record-setting four-year career at the University of Colorado.

“The girls from Denver joke that I’m like from Wyoming, because I’m not from Denver,” Smith said this week during the USWNT training camp at the Denver Broncos ’headquarters in Centennial. “Mal was saying, ‘You’re basically from Wyoming.’ It’s just kind of funny because we’re all from different places in Colorado.

“It’s like having family on the team. Jaelin and I grew up together. I’ve known Mal for a long time. Lindsey and I are super close. It’s really fun. And for all of us to get to do this together and come home and play in front of our families, it will be a night that we all remember for a long time. ”

Smith grew up in a basketball family. Her sister, Savannah, is the all-time leading scorer for the University of Northern Colorado women’s basketball team. But she has steadily changed that family focus through the course of her career.

After graduating from Fossil Ridge High, Smith spent two seasons at Stanford.

She was a second team All-Pac-12 honoree. She was also as an All-Freshman team selection following her first season, despite that campaign ending early due to an injury. Yet Smith followed through on her promise as one of the top prospects in the nation in 2019, recording 17 goals and nine assists in 21 games.

Smith recorded a pair of hat tricks during an NCAA Tournament run that ended with Stanford winning the national championship. That same fall, Smith received her first call-up to the senior USWNT. She opted to enter the 2020 NWSL draft and was the top overall selection in a draft that featured Pac-12 prospects going in the top four picks (Kornieck was third).

In her most recent NWSL match with Portland FC before rejoining the national team, Smith scored a pair of goals to push her season total to eight – good for second in the league and already surpassing the seven goals she scored as a rookie. Returning to Colorado alongside other state natives on the nation’s premier team already has the makings of a career highlight for Smith.

“This state does something right in terms of bringing up really, really good soccer players,” Smith said. “I think it will only continue to get better. I know there are a few Colorado girls on youth national teams. You’ll see more people coming out of this state making national teams, making rosters. It’s exciting. ”

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