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USWNT’s Sophia Smith matches Mia Hamm milestone to cap breakout year

Sophia Smith scored her 11th goal of 2022 for the USWNT in Sunday's win against Germany. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

When Sophia Smith scored in the NWSL championship game to help the Portland Thorns secure their third NWSl title, it was hard to imagine her year of accomplishments getting any better.

But it did.

Smith was named the league MVP after scoring 14 goals in the regular season, and then she received the championship game MVP trophy as well, capping a spectacular NWSL season for the 22-year-old.

And then, seemingly not content with dominating the NWSL alone, Smith decided to add a record to her international career as well. As the U.S. women’s national team defeated Germany 2-1 in its last friendly of 2022, Smith took the opportunity to score another goal and earn another accolade.

The goal, which came from the top left corner of the box at the 54th minute, was Smith’s team-leading 11th of the year for the USWNT. It also put her in the record books with some elite company. The 22-year-old is now the youngest player to lead the USWNT in scoring in a calendar year since Mia Hamm did it as a 21-year-old in 1993.

And if you ask her coaches, this is just the beginning for Smith, who was born seven years after Hamm’s 1993 leading-scorer campaign.

USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski cited Smith as being one of the players who impressed him most this season. She has been appearing on and off for the national team since she first earned a call-up as a 16-year-old, but this season, Smith has established herself as a key member of the team — now and for the future.

And Rhian Wilkinson, who coaches Smith with the Thorns, sees the young forward as the future of United States women’s soccer, with the potential to keep her name conversation with the likes of Hamm.

“She can stop pushing now, and she will still be a very good player, one of the best players this country has ever produced,” Wilkinson said after Smith led the Thorns to an NWSL title. “And my job is to keep pushing her, and to make sure she is the best player this country has ever produced because she has that in her right now.”

Smith has had aspirations for greatness for a long time, and the former Stanford player says she asks each of her coaches to continue pushing her to new heights.

“I feel like I can be (the best), but I need to be pushed and I need to be held to high standards every single day,” Smith said after the NWSL title game.