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: 70 appearances, this will be her first World Cup, and she has 35 international goals.
What to expect from Sydney Leroux: At this point, even with only one friendly game left before the World Cup begins, no one is really sure who will be starting in the two forward attacking positions for the U.S. team. This is certainly a problem of excess — the team has so many good options, it’s hard to choose one. Sydney Leroux is one of those options. Whether she starts or comes off the bench, Leroux plays the same way: she looks to use her speed and physicality to run onto balls played to her through, around, or over the defense. Once she has the ball, it’s tough to knock her off of it. She often eschews early shots, seeming to prefer to dribble around defenders and even the goalie before tapping the ball into an open net. When she’s off her game, she doesn’t look as though she’s contributing, because she’s not a player who gets in position for easy passes and then plays the ball off to another attacker. When it’s not working for her on the field, she just basically can’t get the ball. When it is working though, she’s perhaps the team’s most high-octane, aggressive attacking threat. No matter what, her work rate is extremely high — she’s always running and she works tirelessly to harass defenders when the other team has the ball.
Video: This is a classic Leroux goal. She gets behind the defense with a well-timed, fast run, receives a pass, and then dribbles around the goalie to score.
Non-gendered personal interest item: Leroux is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. She was born and raised in Canada and played for Canadian youth national teams but decided to play at the senior level for the United States. This decision has made her women’s soccer public enemy number one in Canada. Expect her to be booed by Canadian fans every time she touches the ball throughout the tournament but especially if the U.S. and Canada meet up in an elimination round game.