Sophia Smith had an incredible 2022, and it has been capped with yet another award. The 22-year-old forward added another trophy to her case today by being named the 2022 Biosteel U.S. Soccer Female Player of The Year.
Smith became the 19th different player to win the award in its 38-year history and the youngest to win the award since Mia Hamm was honored in 1994. Smith led the NWSL in points, with 14 goals and 3 assists in 18 games, leading the Portland Thorns to an NWSL Championship. For her performance in the final, she was named the NWSL Championship Game MVP, and she also won the league MVP. All of this occurred in only her second season in the league.
“Obviously this is surreal, and I’m super humbled,” said Smith. “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.”
Smith joins Tobin Heath, Julie Ertz, and Lindsey Horan as the only players to win Player of the Year and Young Female Player of the Year. She also led the USWNT in goals with 11 in 18 matches. She shined her brightest during the CONCACAF W Championship last July, being one of the pillars of the Andonovski youth movement as the USWNT won the tournament, qualifying for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics in the process.
“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 continued.
“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.”
Another cool stat from her stellar year is she was only the 4th player to score double-digit goals in the league and international competition, joining Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, and Christen Press. Smith has an opportunity to have another stellar year with the Women’s World Cup coming in July. She has the support of her coach, Vlatko Andonovski who praised Smith for her humbleness.
“This was a big year for Sophia, and she deserves this recognition, but I’m just excited about where she can take her game from here,” Andonovski said. “She is a special player with special qualities, but the best thing is that has the humbleness, work ethic and drive to keep developing all aspects of her game...she’s a joy to work with because she’s always looking for that edge to become better and more productive. As a person, she’s a wonderful part of our team, a fantastic teammate and we’re looking forward to her having another great year in 2023.”
Congrats to Sophia!!