Soccer phenom Sophia Smith of Windsor returns to her home state Saturday, this time in a much different uniform.
Smith, who played for Fossil Ridge High School (Fort Collins) and the Real Colorado club team, is a part of the U.S women’s national team roster which plays a friendly against Colombia at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.
While Colorado soccer fans are familiar with names such as Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh, Smith, at just 21, is one to watch, too. 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’s scored eight goals, second-best in the league behind fellow national team member Alex Morgan.
But before she became the standout forward that she is today, Smith’s career started like many others: playing and making memories with her high school team. Natalie Beckman, another Colorado native and fellow Thorns player, remembers playing Smith throughout high school, and how fast she was as well as her mastery with the ball.
“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 Smith’s first experience playing at the national level. A talented striker, she was first called up for the U-14 national team in 2013, followed by appearances on the U15, U17, U18, U19, U20, and U23 national teams. From her success at the international level, Smith was also part of the U-17 and U-18 FIFA Women’s World Cup squad.
It was no surprise when Smith got offered a scholarship by a top program like Stanford in 2018, where she helped her team to a national championship in 2019. After two seasons at Stanford, Smith decided to enter the 2020 NWSL College Draft where she was selected by the Portland Thorns FC as the first overall pick.
Later that November, she became the first player born in the 2000s to appear for the senior national team.
Despite an injury cutting her 2020 season short, Smith was able to get back into top form for the 2021 season, leading the Thorns in goals and to a NWSL Challenge Cup victory.
This year she’s been even better. Smith’s performances have earned her an automatic spot on the 23-player roster who will compete in 2022 CONCACAF W Championship in July to qualify for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics.
According to Smith, returning to Colorado as part of the national team is special.
“Coming back to Colorado feels full circle because I’ve dreamed of this moment since the beginning,” she said. “To be able to share this experience with my family will mean everything.”