A look at some of the rising stars who will be playing at the Women’s World Cup:
SOPHIA SMITH (USA)
USA coach Vlatko Andonovski has focused on developing young talent ahead of the Women’s World Cup. The best of them is Smith, a 22-year-old forward who was named American Soccer Player of the Year after scoring 11 goals and starting 17 games – both team highs – in 2022. She was the youngest player to win the award. since Mia Hamm, also 22, did it in 1994, which says a lot about Smith’s quality. “She’s a special player with special qualities,” Andonovski said of Smith, “but the best thing is that she has the humility, the work ethic and the drive to keep developing all aspects of his game.” The first player born in the 2000s to play for the senior national team, Smith is also the reigning MVP of the National Women’s Soccer League, where she plays for the Portland Thorns.
ALYSSA THOMPSON (USA)
Thompson has been described as a “generational player” by her club, made her senior debut for the United States at Wembley Stadium and has a deal with Nike. And she’s only 18. Thompson seems destined for the pinnacle of women’s soccer, having this year become the first high school player to be drafted into the National Women’s Soccer League in its history. Incidentally, she was the first choice. She currently plays as a forward for Angel City – she scored, of course, on her regular season debut – after graduating from Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles. His debut for the USWNT came aged 17 against European champions England at a sold-out Wembley in September, giving him a taste of the big time. Along with his younger sister Giselle, they have had a name, image and likeness deal with Nike since last year.
JUN ENDO (Japan)
In his second year in the NWSL with Angel City, 22-year-old Endo is starting to show his personality – with and without the ball. How not to notice her bright pink hair at the start of the season? Or that she was warming up for a game in her socks? Endo is a left-footed striker who is slowly becoming a bigger part of the Japan national team due to her pace and movement. Playing in the American League seems to have given her more confidence that she belongs at the top level. This World Cup could see her make a breakthrough.
LAUREN JAMES (England)
She is no longer seen simply as the sister of one of the Premier League’s best full-backs – Chelsea’s Reece James – but a genuine top-notch talent in her own right. At 21, Lauren James has already played for two of England’s biggest sides – Manchester United and now Chelsea – and helped her side win the league and cup double this season. She’s a powerful right-winger who showed mental resilience to overcome a series of serious injuries early in her career and become a key player for England’s top club as well as the national team over the last year. Beth Mead’s injury has opened up a place in England’s forward line at the Women’s World Cup and James could take it.
LINDA CAICEDO (Colombia)
Can a teenager be considered a veteran? At 18, Caicedo is perhaps the closest thing to it, having started playing in the Colombian league at the age of 14. The striker has already been Colombian champion twice – with América de Cali and Deportivo Cali – and was voted player of the tournament. at the Copa America in 2022, the same year she was also tied as top scorer at the Under-17 World Cup in India as Colombia reached the final. Caicedo also joined Real Madrid this year, so she’s done a lot in the first four years of her career – not to mention discovering in 2020 that she had ovarian cancer. The tumor was discovered early and removed.
JODY BROWN (Jamaica)
It’s been quite a journey for the Jamaican forward since she found the courage to play with her brother and friends when she was around 12 years old. She is now a star in college for the Florida State Seminoles and is preparing to appear in her second women’s tournament. World Cup, after participating in the 2019 “Reggae Girlz” tournament at the age of 17. Now 21, she played a key role in the Seminoles’ victory in last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament and, in time, will surely turn pro after finishing college. . It is unlikely that there will be a shortage of offers.
MELCHIE DUMORNAY (Haiti)
Dumornay is the 19-year-old heartbeat of a national team playing in their first Women’s World Cup and a player of growing fame in France, where she will play next season with record-breaking eight-time European champions Lyon. She is a central midfielder who played in the Women’s Under-20 World Cup in 2018, aged 15, and played a key role in securing Haiti’s place in the next Cup. Women’s World Cup with two goals against Chile in the Inter-Confederation Qualifiers. final. She has overtaken her French club of the last two years, Reims – expect her in the coming weeks to validate Lyon’s decision to sign her until 2026.
Steve Douglas is on https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
AP Women’s World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/fifa-womens-world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports