Sophia Smith, 22, Becomes First Black Women to Win US Soccer Player of the Year

by Xara Aziz
Voiced by Amazon Polly

A 22-year-old soccer forward has been voted 2022 US Soccer Player of the Year, making her the first Black woman to win the award in its 38-year history.

Sophia Smith was the leading scorer for the US women’s national team last year, scoring 15 goals – a team record – for the Portland Thorns FC. She also won the 2022 NWSL Championship and MVP honors for scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 victory against the Kansas City Current. Her MVP status makes her the youngest winner in NWSL history.

“Obviously this is surreal, and I’m super humbled,” Smith told CBS Sports. “It’s been a very exciting year, and certainly there’s been some challenges, but just being able to grow and develop in the environments with the National Team and the Thorns, and being surrounded by such amazing players, players that I have looked up to for so long, has pushed me to become a better player and person.”

The Colorado-born athlete is the 19th player to earn the award in the senior women’s national team program’s history and is the youngest to lead USWNT in scoring since 1994. Smith is the second on the team to play the longest on field with 1,192 minutes played.

She also “became the youngest USWNT player since 2000 and the fifth-youngest to net a hat trick in USWNT history with her three-goal performance on April 9 vs. Uzbekistan,” according to CBS Sports.  

“I’ve said many times, if you embrace these environments, you have no choice but to get better and grow, and that’s a testament to the players, coaches and all of the staff,” Smith said. “I appreciate everyone holding me to such high standards day in and day out. This award wouldn’t be possible without all those people, and the best thing about it is that it’s fun too. The journey is so much better when you are doing something so fun and something you love.”

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