Windsor soccer phenom Sophia Smith returns to her home state on Saturday, this time in a very different uniform.
Smith, who played for Fossil Ridge High School (Fort Collins) and club team Real Colorado, is on the U.S. Women’s National Team playing a friendly against Colombia at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.
While Colorado football fans know names like Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh, Smith, just 21, is also one to watch. In just her third season as a professional, Smith has made 15 appearances and scored four goals for the national team. So far this season with the Portland Thorns, she has scored eight goals, second best in the league behind compatriot Alex Morgan.
But before she became the standout forward she is today, Smith’s career began like many others: playing and making memories with her high school team. Natalie Beckman, another Colorado native and fellow Thorns player, remembers playing Smith all through high school, and how fast she was as well as her ball skills.
“She’s always been an amazing player,” Beckman said. “Our team always made sure to watch out for her because it was hard to stop her once she had the ball.”
This isn’t the first time Smith has played at the national level. A talented striker, she was first called up to the U-14 national team in 2013, followed by appearances for the U15, U17, U18, U19, U20 and U23 national teams. Since her success at international level, Smith has also been part of the FIFA U-17 and U-18 Women’s World Cup squad.
It was no surprise when Smith was offered a scholarship by a top program like Stanford in 2018, where she helped her team win a national championship in 2019. After two seasons at Stanford, Smith decided to enter the 2020 NWSL College Draft where she was selected. by Portland Thorns FC as first overall pick.
Later in November, she became the first player born in the 2000s to appear for the senior national team.
Despite an injury that cut short his 2020 season, Smith was able to get back to full fitness for the 2021 season, leading the Thorns in goals and an NWSL Challenge Cup win.
This year it was even better. Smith’s performances earned her an automatic spot on the 23-player shortlist who will compete in the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship in July to qualify for the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.
According to Smith, returning to Colorado as part of the national team is special.
“Coming back to Colorado seems to come full circle because I’ve dreamed of this moment all along,” she said. “Being able to share this experience with my family will mean everything.”