Sports

Sophia Smith: The Rising Star of Women’s Soccer

Sophia Olivia Smith, born on August 10, 2000, is an American professional soccer player, specializing as a forward for Portland Thorns FC in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and contributing to the United States national team.

She played collegiate soccer at Stanford University, aiding the Cardinal in winning the national championship in 2019.

Smith was the overall top pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft.

In 2022, Smith earned acclaim as the NWSL Most Valuable Player (MVP) and received the title US Soccer Female Player of the Year.

Notably, she secured MVP honors in the 2022 NWSL Championship, playing a pivotal role in Portland Thorns FC’s victory and the clenching of the 2022 title.

Additionally, Smith was named to the NWSL Best XI.

An image of Sophia Smith
Sophia Smith of the United States celebrates scoring during the first half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand.Carmen Mandato/USSF / Getty Images

 

 Sophia Smith Early life

Sophia, born to Mollie and Kenny Smith, grew up in Windsor,  near Fort Collins, Colorado, alongside her two older sisters, Gabrielle and Savannah.

Her family has a strong basketball background, with her father and sister having played at the University of Wyoming and the University of Northern Colorado, respectively.

At the age of 6, Sophia’s soccer talent became evident when she dominated a 3-on-3 league, impressing her father.

During a car ride to a game, she confidently declared she would score ten goals and delivered on that promise.

Sophia’s early soccer journey included playing with the Timnath Twisters and Arsenal Colorado in the U-6 through U13 age groups, securing state cup victories with the latter.

While attending Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, Sophia excelled in both soccer and basketball.

As a freshman on the varsity soccer team, she notched an impressive 10 goals and 4 assists in just 8 games, earning her the title of First-Team All-Conference.

Simultaneously, she showcased her skills on the varsity basketball team.

Sophia’s club soccer experience with Real Colorado led to her first call-up to the U-14 national team.

Playing with Real Colorado, Sophia and her team achieved notable success, finishing as runners-up at the ECNL National Championship and securing a fourth-place finish.

Despite living in Fort Collins, Sophia and her family dedicated long hours to drive to Denver for soccer practices with youth national teams.

Impressively, Sophia earned a call-up to the senior national team, marking a significant milestone in her promising soccer career.

College Career

Smith, a standout at Stanford University, achieved notable success in her abbreviated two-season collegiate soccer career.

As a Cardinal, she secured two Pac-12 Championships and an NCAA Championship.

In her freshman year (2018), Smith made an impact with 7 goals, 2 assists, and three game-winning goals, earning spots on the All-Pac-12 freshman and second teams.

The subsequent season (2019) saw her elevate her game, scoring 17 goals with 9 assists.

She played a crucial role in Stanford’s 2019 NCAA College Cup victory, contributing a hat-trick in the semi-final and helping secure the national title in a penalty shootout during the final.

Smith received numerous accolades, including being named the College Cup’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player and earning a spot on the All-Pac-12 second team.

Club Career

In the 2020 NWSL College Draft, Smith claimed the top spot and joined Portland Thorns FC, but her debut season was hindered by a foot injury and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite these challenges, she made a notable impact, contributing to the Thorns’ first-place finish in the NWSL Fall Series.

The 2021 season saw Smith emerge as a key forward, scoring seven goals and securing the NWSL Shield.

The following year, in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, she notched three goals in five matches, earning the league MVP title.

Smith played a pivotal role in the Thorns’ NWSL Championship win, scoring the opening goal and receiving the Championship MVP honor.

In 2023, she achieved a milestone with her first professional hat-trick, earning the NWSL Golden Boot with 11 goals in 16 matches despite a knee injury.

Smith was named NWSL Player of the Month multiple times and earned a spot in the NWSL Best XI for her outstanding contributions throughout her career.

International career

Smith has represented the United States in various age groups, including under-17, under-20, and senior national teams.

In the 2016 FIFA U-17 World Cup, she showcased her skills internationally, earning a call-up to the senior national team after setting a youth national team record with nine goals in six consecutive games in early 2017.

Following her contribution to the under-20 squad’s runner-up finish at the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, Smith secured a spot on the USA U-20 roster for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

In the initial training camp of 2020, she received a call-up to the senior national team after being identified in a talent identification camp in December 2019.

A significant milestone occurred on November 27, 2020, when Smith earned her first national team cap in a match against the Netherlands, becoming the inaugural player born in the 2000s to compete for the senior national team.

2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Smith earned a spot on the U.S. roster for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand.

In the team’s initial group stage clash against Vietnam, she showcased her skills by scoring two goals and contributing an assist for the third, leading the team to a 3–0 victory.

Smith’s outstanding performance, involved in every goal, earned her the title of Player of the Match

During the knockout stage match against Sweden, Smith displayed endurance by playing the full 90 minutes of regulation time and the additional 30 minutes of extra time.

Despite a goalless draw at the end of extra time, the game proceeded to a penalty shootout.

Unfortunately, Smith was one of three U.S. players who missed penalty shots, resulting in the team’s elimination from the World Cup.

Personal life

Smith encountered her partner, Michael Wilson, a professional NFL player, during their time at Stanford.

She finds pleasure in reading science fiction novels.

She is affectionately referred to as “Soph.”

In Popular Culture

Print media

In June 2023, Smith was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated alongside national teammates Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan, and Trinity Rodman.

Additionally, she has been highlighted in Elle, Vogue, and Time magazines.

Television and film

Smith co-starred in a commercial for ESPN’s Sportscenter starting in January 2023 with Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn.

Starting in July 2023, she starred in a Nike, Inc. commercial entitled, “Nice to Beat You”.

She starred in a Wells Fargo Visa commercial called “Lucky Soccer Socks” and a Chipotle commercial called “Starting Wing” the same month.

Endorsements

Smith has secured endorsement deals with various brands including Nike, Inc., BioSteel Sports Nutrition, Ally Financial, Chipotle, Clif Bar, and Hyperice.

Conclusion

Sophia Smith’s journey from a talented young soccer player in Colorado to a prominent figure in American women’s soccer reflects her skill, resilience, and impact on and off the field.

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