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: 32 appearances, this will be her first World Cup, and she has 2 international goals.
What to expect from Meghan Klingenberg: Undersized world class athletes, like 5’2″ Meghan Klingenberg, survive in every sport by having one or two remarkable qualities. For pint-sized NHL star, Martin St. Louis, it’s his freaky lower-body strength. For NBA legend, Allen Iverson, it was a mixture of quickness and complete disregard for his own safety. For Meghan Klingenberg, it’s speed. When you watch her play, she’s consistently a step or four ahead of her opponents. At times, her teammates will pass the ball in Klingenber’s direction but so far away that you think, “oh that’s a bad pass…” and then you watch Klingenberg catch up to the ball. Her speed and her experience in college as a midfielder make her perfect for playing the outside defense position as coach Jill Ellis likes to utilize it. In Ellis’ system, the wing defender is expected to move all the way up the field, helping the team transition to offense by playing give-and-go with central players before launching a cross into the penalty box. Klingenberg will be doing that for most of the World Cup — she’s played in all eight games the team has played in 2015 and started seven of them.
Video: My favorite part of this video is how, even after a goal as magnificent as this one, Klingenberg’s speed is what sticks in her teammates minds.