The 2015 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Saturday, June 6 in Canada. The United States team is one of a handful of favorites to win the tournament and they’ve got a great story. Despite decades of excellent play, the team has not won a World Cup championship since 1999. That’s a whole generation of dreams denied and all the reason anyone should need to root for the team this year. To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.
National team experience: 100 appearances, this will be her second World Cup, and she has scored nine international goals
What to expect from Lori Chalupny: Lori Chalupny is a versatile veteran player who will come off the bench in this year’s World Cup. She can play any of the midfield positions but is most likely to be used as an outside defender. Fans of Chalupny might feel as though she’s being underutilized in this role and perhaps she is. Over the last three years, playing professional soccer for the NWSL team, the Chicago Red Stars, Chalupny has starred as a central midfielder, a defender, and even a striker. As recently as two years ago, Chalupny was considered one of the best players in the world. Either she is being underutilized or age and her unique history with the National Team (more on this later) may have caught up with her. At 5’4″, she’s not a physical defensive presence but she can get up and down the field, transitioning from a defensive to an offensive role quickly. That’s one of the primary skills asked of outside defenders by coach Jill Ellis, so it’s no surprise that’s what we’re most likely to be seeing her do.
Video: Although she plays defense now, Chalupny still has a well tuned scoring touch, as she showed on this corner.
Non-gendered personal interest item: Chalupny started every game of the 2007 World Cup for the U.S. Women’s National team. In 2011, she wasn’t even on the team. Now, she’s back. What happened? The obvious answer is concussions. After a series of concussions, the team and its medical staff decided in 2010 to drop her from consideration. They did not feel it was safe or smart to keep putting her out on the field. Chalupny disagreed as did the doctors for the series of professional teams she played for between 2010 and 2014. There seems to be some confusion about the mechanics of her getting back onto the team in 2014. The national team has received some criticism for not reconsidering her, considering that she has apparently not had a concussion since 2010, but its also possible that Chalupny had not applied to be back on the team. It’s a curious situation that smells political and I wonder if her role on the team is completely free from its aftermath. I certainly hope so. Moreover, I hope that she remains concussion free.