Meet the U.S. Women's Soccer Team: Alyssa Naeher

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.

Alyssa Naeher

Position: Goalkeeper

Number: 21

National team experience: 1 appearance and this will be her first World Cup.

What to expect from Alyssa Naeher: Naeher is the least likely player on the entire team to make it into a game. This isn’t a reflection on her, she’s a great goalie, but Hope Solo is a fixture in the net and Ashlyn Harris seems to be coach Jill Ellis’ second choice. Naeher’s path to playing would be a Hope Solo injury followed by a poor Harris performance. Seems unlikely. If called on Naeher could do the job. A tall goalie at 5’9″, Naeher is used to being called on in desperation. She won National Women’s Soccer League goalkeeper of the year in 2014 despite playing for the Boston Breakers, a team with a shaky defense that finished second to last in the league. After one extraordinary victory, she received the Tim Howard meme treatment for her extraordinary saves. Naeher also has experience with success in World Cups — in 2008 she led the U.S. under-20 team to a World Cup championship, playing in all but one of their games.

In case you’re wondering why the team would even bother carrying three goalies, it’s because if something were to happen to two goalies and you didn’t have a third, all the extra midfielders in the world couldn’t save you from losing.

Video: Here’s Naeher saving a penalty kick in what looks like an NWSL game.

Non-gendered personal interest item: 

Links: Read about Naeher in a New England Soccer Journal profile of her by Tim Bresnahan. Check her out on her US Soccer page and follow her on Twitter.

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