The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.
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.
Club: Portland Thorns FC
National team experience: Franch has made one appearance for the national team. She played in a 2-2 draw with England during the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.
What to expect from Adrianna Franch in 2019: Something would have to go terribly wrong for us to see Adrianna Franch in the 2019 World Cup. That’s not an insult to her as a goalkeeper, it’s just a recognition that she is the third goalie and would need some combination of injuries and horrific play from Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris to see the field. It’s really a shame though, because Franch is a terrific player. As the starting goalie on the Portland Thorns, she was selected as best goalie of the year in the NWSL in both of the last two seasons. She’s explosive and calm in the air. Calmness is an underrated quality for goalies. It’s great to get your hands on a shot, but it’s so easy for the ball to skid off of your hands and go into the back of the net or rebound out to the feet of an opponent. When you watch Franch’s highlights, you get the sense that any ball she can get a finger on will be caught or directed to safety. To see more of her, we’re all just going to have to become NWSL fans after the World Cup.
Non-gendered personal interest item: As a young black goalie, Franch was inevitably compared to USWNT legend Brianna Scurry, also a black goalie. Although I subscribe to the belief that player comparisons should only be allowed across races, it makes sense that Franch would also have looked up to Scurry herself. As luck would have it, the only time Franch has gotten a chance to start for the USNWT was the game when players were asked to choose a role model’s name to wear on their backs in lieu of their own. Franch chose Scurry.