Sophia Smith has a U.S. women’s national team legend cheering her on as she heads to her first World Cup.
The present and future of the squad, Smith is just 22 years old. But you wouldn’t know it by the way she plays. And she will enter the tournament, which kicks off on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand, with high expectations.
The reigning NWSL MVP is the first woman born in the 2000s to earn a cap for the national team — and the first born after the USWNT’s historic 1999 World Cup win.
On Wednesday, the Portland Thorns posted a photo of a younger Smith posing with USWNT all-time leading scorer Abby Wambach alongside Smith’s official USWNT roster photo.
“Did we make it? Yes we did,” the Thorns wrote in the caption.
did we yesmake it? we did pic.twitter.com/rwh7n25h0P— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) June 21, 2023
did we yesmake it? we did pic.twitter.com/rwh7n25h0P
Smith and her family no longer recall the exact circumstances behind the childhood photo, they told Just Women’s Sports reporter Eden Laase. They think it may have been at a Colorado Rapids game where members of the USWNT made an appearance. But what matters is that Smith saw Wambach and insisted on waiting in line for a photo, no matter how long it took.
“She was going to stay there until she met her,” her mother Mollie Smith said.
The photo has circulated on social media several times in the last few years. Smith posted it after her first appearance for the USWNT in 2020, acknowledging Wambach as “a big reason this moment happened for me.”
“You inspired me to follow my dreams,” Smith told Wambach at the time.
Three years later, those dreams have led Smith to the World Cup. And as one of the team’s leading scorers, they could one day see her join Wambach among the USWNT’s all-time leaders.
Wambach responded to the Thorns’ tweet Thursday, encouraging Smith: “Go on and bring that World Cup home!!!”
Before Wambach retired in 2015, she played in four World Cups with the USWNT. She secured her first title in her final tournament in 2015.
No go on and bring that World Cup home!!! https://t.co/GX5xgiQqLX— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) June 22, 2023
No go on and bring that World Cup home!!! https://t.co/GX5xgiQqLX