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: 24 appearances, this will be her first World Cup, and she has scored three international goals
What to expect from Whitney Engen: We probably won’t see Engen play in this World Cup unless the team has cliched their spot in the group stage before the last game and they decide to start a team of backups. Engen has not played in any game since the start of the Algarve Cup in March. There’s no shame in this — after all, in what context can you say that you’re somewhere between the 18th and 23rd best in the entire country? If the team does call on Engen, she will provide a stout, physical presence at central defender. Having started her first two seasons of college at North Carolina (the historically dominant women’s soccer school) as a striker, she’s still got a good scoring touch, even if she generally only gets to exercise it as a target for corner kicks and set pieces.
Video: You can learn everything you need to know about Engen’s game from the clear respect her teammates have for her in general and the teasing disrespect they show for the technical goal-scoring ability that she exhibited in this clip.
Non-gendered personal interest item: According to her Wikipedia page, during her senior season in college, Engen played 1,211 minutes (or about 13.5 games) straight without ever being subbed. That’s quite an iron-woman record!