THE WILD CHILD
Sydney Leroux challenged her mother from the very beginning. Her mother remembers playing in a softball game, glancing toward the sideline and doing a double take; there was three-year-old “Syd,” climbing to the very top of a “hugely, hugely tall” fence. “It was absolutely terrifying,” recalls Sandi.
“I was wild,” says Leroux. “That’s really the best way to describe it; I had to be doing something, pushing buttons.”
In school, she always ended up in the front office. “I was a pretty bad kid,” she recalls. “I would get up when I was supposed to be sitting down. I was in my own world and no one could be a part of that but me. Recess would end, everyone else would come in, but in my head, it wasn’t time for me to come in yet. I’d still be out there kicking the ball.”
On the behavior report cards, Leroux would white out the teacher’s grade and replace it with a good grade. “It would be obvious, childish handwriting. But I’d give it to my mom, totally thinking I could trick her. Plus I got home before my mom, so I’d just go through the voicemail, erasing all the voicemails saying “Syd did this or that.”
SOCCER STEADYING GROUND
At fourteen, Leroux moved by herself to the United States. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to play for the United States and I knew that I could – because my dad was American. I saw all those big names in ‘99, and I thought it was so cool - that was what I wanted. I wanted to be known for being a soccer player and doing something that I love.”
In Arizona, she found a coach and a team that would make her better. But it’s not easy to be on your own at fourteen. She lived in three different houses trying to find one that fit; she missed her mom, and she had a hard time fitting in. “You know, at that age, girls are mean, they don’t take into account how you make people feel. It was terrible,” says Leroux. “Everyone already had their group of friends. I was an outsider, an outcast. There were people who made it better, but it was hard. I’d sleep to pass the days. I’d call my mom crying.”
The field was Sydney’s relief, soccer was my outlet; it was the only thing that made me sane. I just dove right in. I’d go to the boys practice. Then I would go to the ‘89 boys, ‘89 girls, practice with the ‘90s; sometimes three practices a day. Eventually I got the call for the National Team camp – and it was all worth it.”
“I was very much a tomboy,” says Leroux. “I went through a stage, more than a stage actually – it was like years. I wanted to be a boy, so badly.” She convinced her mom to let her cut her hair really short and told people her name was Christopher. Leroux’s mother says, “The school would call my house and say, ‘She’s saying she’s a boy,’ and I would say, ‘Nope, she’s a girl. She’s just going through a stage, let her be.’”“It’s just kind of funny because now, everyone sees me as this girly girl, but back then, I took tomboy to a whole new level,” says Leroux.
U.S. National Team: A major attacking threat with pace, power and bravery to get to the ball first, Leroux first made waves in 2012 by scoring 14 goals, exclusively as a substitute … Since then, she has confirmed her goal scoring credentials as she continues to earn minutes in the USA’s deep pool of forwards.
2015: 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champion... Named to the 2015 U.S. FIFA Women's World Cup roster, her first World Cup selection... Has played in 11 games this year, starting four... Made her first start of 2015 against Mexico on May 17 in the USA's second Send-Off Series game in Carson, California, and scored two goals to help the USA go on to win 5-1... Came in as a second-half sub during the USA's 4-0 win over New Zealand on April 4 in St. Louis, and provided the assist on Morgan Brian's goal late in the match... Saw action twice during the USA's run to its 10th Algarve Cup title, both times as a second-half sub while recuperating from a minor injury... 2014: Appeared in 21 games and set career highs in games started (15), minutes played (1,308) and assists (5) … Scored nine goals, fourth-best on the team, finding the net against Canada (twice), Russia, Japan, Denmark, China PR, France, Mexico, and in the USA’s 6-0 win against Costa Rica in the final of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship as she helped the team book its ticket to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup … 2013: Made a major impact on the U.S. attack, scoring 10 goals (second on the team) with four assists … Averaged a goal for every 83 minutes she was on the field … She played 835 minutes in 15 games, starting nine, which were her first nine starts after coming off the bench in the first 29 games of her career … Scored four goals – all in the first half and all in a row – in a 7-0 victory against Mexico on Sept. 3 in Washington, D.C. … Also scored against Scotland, China PR, New Zealand and the game-clincher in a 3-0 win vs. Canada in Toronto on June 2 … Scored twice in the 4-1 victory against Brazil on Nov. 10 in Orlando that finished the year … Tied for third for most goals for club and country (21) of any American player … Headed into 2014 with 24 goals in her first 43 games … 2012: Had a breakout year, playing in 27 games, all as a reserve, and set a U.S. record for most goals as a substitute with 14, which were the first 14 of her career … Averaged a goal for every 37 minutes she was on the field … In her second career cap against Guatemala at CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, she scored the first five goals of her career, all in the second half, in her hometown of Vancouver, Canada … She was the youngest player on the Olympic qualifying team while playing in three games as the USA won the regional title … Made her first world championship team at the senior level for the 2012 Olympics and played off the bench in four games … Scored her first Olympic goal against New Zealand in the quarterfinal, sealing the 2-0 victory in Newcastle … Scored the winning goal against Norway in a 2-1 victory in group play at the Algarve Cup … Also scored against Denmark at the Algarve Cup … Had a two-goal game against Ireland on Nov. 28 during the Fan Tribute Tour … Tied for third among players for most goals combined for club and country with 21 … 2011: A prolific scorer with the U.S. Under-20 WNT, she earned her first cap with the senior team at the beginning of 2011 … Made the roster for the Four Nations Tournament in China in January and came off the bench late in the game in the first match of the tournament against Sweden … Youth National Teams: One of the most dangerous forwards in the world at the U-20 level, finished her U-20 career as the USA’s most-capped player (39) and tied (with Lindsey Horan and Kelley O’Hara) for highest scorer at this level (24) … The USA’s all-time leading scorer in U-20 Women’s World Cups with 10 goals … Played in 18 international matches in 2010, including four at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, and scored 17 goals in those games … Scored against Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Germany, England, New Zealand, Japan, Ghana, Switzerland and Korea Republic in 2010… Scored a hat trick against Switzerland at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, just the third ever in a Women’s World Cup by a U.S. player … A member of the U.S. team that won the 2010 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship in Guatemala to earn a berth to the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, she scored the winning goal in the final minutes of the 1-0 victory against Mexico in the championship game … Started all five games in Guatemala and led the USA in scoring with six goals, scoring two each against Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago and two against Mexico, one in group play and one in the final … Also a key member of the U.S. team that won the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile … She became the first American since Carin Gabarra in 1991 to win the Golden Ball as the tournament’s top player at a FIFA Women’s World Cup … She also won the Golden Shoe as the tournament’s top scorer with five goals, including the first in the 2-1 championship game victory against Korea DPR … At the age of 14, she was a member of Canada’s team that played in the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Thailand, where she was the youngest player in the tournament ...Got clearance from FIFA to change associations to the USA in 2008 and went on to star at the U-20 Women’s World Cup … First Appearance: Jan. 21, 2011, vs. Sweden … First Goal: Jan. 22, 2012, vs. Guatemala (5 goals).