U.S. Soccer

Alex Morgan is Scoring Goals and That’s Good for Everyone (Except Those Playing Against Her)

Alex Morgan is in the business of scoring goals. And business is booming.

In her last 18 games playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team, Morgan has scored 17 times. They’ve come in a multitude of ways – from the penalty spot, headers, blistering drives and breakaways. She’s scored game-winners and braces, and against Japan on July 26 at the 2018 Tournament of Nations, she bagged a hat trick. It was the fourth of her career. 

She’s been scoring for the USA since 2010, and since scoring goals is perhaps the most difficult part of the game, there have been periods of great form and a few dry spells. But the past year has been impressive even by the high standards we’ve come to expect from the 29-year-old.

It’s always been clear that when Morgan is in the zone, opposing defenses are in for a long night.

This 18-game run – in which the USA has not lost -- began in the latter half of 2017 after she returned from her six-month stint at Olympique Lyonnais, lasted through the final seven games of 2017, then continued into the first 11 games of 2018.

The current streak began in the final game of the 2017 Tournament of Nations and now almost a year later, she’s still on a roll. She closed 2017 with seven goals in seven games (which made her the team’s top scorer for the year) and has a team-leading 10 goals in 11 games in 2018.

In a span of a few months, Morgan has put herself within striking distance of 100 goals. Currently at 90, she would become the seventh woman in U.S. history to reach the century mark and join a highly exclusive club which features Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Michelle Akers, Tiffeny Milbrett and Carli Lloyd. Even more impressively, she is on pace to achieve this feat in less caps (currently at 143 after the Japan game on July 26) than four of those six legends (Wambach and Akers scored goal No. 100 in their 129th cap; Hamm scored in her 155th cap) and could become the third youngest player in WNT history to reach 100. Wambach scored her 100th goal just after her 29th birthday and Hamm reached 100 when she was 26-and-a-half-years old.

Morgan’s first WNT goal came on Oct. 2, 2010 against China PR. She played in eight games that year and scored four goals. She followed that up with six goals in 2011 and had a breakthrough performance at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.

In 2012, Morgan had one of the best scoring years in U.S. history, tallying a remarkable 28 goals with 21 assists to lead the team in both categories. Her goal total was the third-best in U.S. history behind only Michelle Akers (39 in 1991) and Wambach (31 in 2004) and her assist total was tied for second-best in U.S. history behind only Hamm (22 in 2004) and tied with Carin Gabarra (21 in 1991). She also helped the USA to the gold medal at the London Olympics, scoring the epic 123rdminute game-winner in the semifinal final that is still the latest goal in FIFA history, and earned personal recognition when she finished third for the FIFA Player of the Year award and was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year for the first time.

The next two years for Morgan were unfortunately plagued by injuries. In 2013, she missed a few games but still played 811 minutes in 12 games and scored six goals with four assists. She spent much of 2014 finishing her recovery but returned to play in seven matches, starting four, while scoring five goals with four assists before she suffered an ankle injury in the second match of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship that kept her out for the rest of the year.

She rounded into shape just in time to participate in her second World Cup at the senior level and she was a key member of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champions. She came off the bench in the first two games as she regained her fitness, but then got the start in the final group game against Nigeria and started all four knock-out round games. She played in 22 of the USA’s 26 games that year and scored seven goals. She got back to her old self in 2016 when she found the net 17 times, including what was probably the best goal of the year on March 9 against Germany in the SheBelieves Cup.

Her 2017-18 has been even more impressive, and not just because of her scoring rate, but because the goals are coming against elite talent at a time when the level of play worldwide is increasingly competitive.

There’s still a lot of 2018 left to play, including the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship in October where the USA will look to book its trip to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. And while the U.S. Women know that nothing is given and everything is earned, with Morgan in her current form, fans are surely looking forward to an entertaining few months ahead.

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WNT Aug 14, 2018
US Soccer

Making Moves: Running Down U.S. MNT Offseason Transfers and Loans

It’s been a busy summer of moves for many in the U.S. Men’s National Team player pool. In fact, barely a week has gone by without someone associated with the MNT finding a different home for the new season.

Whether a transfer or loan, a change of clubs is often part of player’s progression. It can be a step up in to a bigger challenge or one to get more playing time. With leagues in Mexico and Europe already or about to get underway, here’s a recap of where MNT players have landed the last few months.

Loans on Loans on Loans

Coming off two very successful seasons on loan with Dutch Eredivisie side Vitesse, rising MNT center back Matt Miazga is embarking on a new challenge going on loan from Chelsea to French Ligue 1 side Nantes, who finished in the top half of the Ligue 1 table. The 23-year-old follows in the footsteps of Alejandro Bedoya, who became a fan-favorite with Les Canaris during the course of three seasons at Stade de la Beaujoire, with the club playing on the U.S. connection when they announced the signing on Aug. 6, 2018 (see below).

In Germany, Bobby Wood will remain in the Bundesliga this season after Hamburg agreed to send the MNT striker on loan to Hannover 96 last month. Die Roten have a long history of signing U.S. players, with the lineage including the “Mayor of Hannover” Steve Cherundolo, Clint Mathis, DaMarcus Beasley and Conor Casey. After a tough season with a relegated Hamburg side, Wood will hope to rediscover his scoring touch at the HDI-Arena.

In England, left back Antonee Robinson recently secured his short and long-term future, signing a new three-year contract with Everton before the Premier League club sent him on a season-long loan to Wigan Athletic. Despite only having one training session under his belt, Robinson was thrust into the starting XI this past weekend, earning high marks and even helping set up a goal as Wigan defeated Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 in the club’s season opener.

After signing with Manchester City and immediately going on loan for the second half of last season with Kortrijk in Belgium, center back Erik Palmer-Brown (pictured above) will spend this campaign with Dutch Eredivisie side NAC Breda. The U.S. captain at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Palmer-Brown takes up residence at the same club where current MNT General Manager Earnie Stewart spent some of his best years as a professional, and will look for his first full season of consistent playing time.

Joining EPB in the Dutch top-flight is Andrija Novakovich. A product of Muskego, Wisc., Novakovich burst onto the MNT scene in March thanks to a campaign in which he scored 22 goals in 38 matches while on loan with Dutch Erstedivisie side Telstar. Similar to Robinson, Novakovich signed a new two-year deal with the English League Championship club Reading, before returning to Holland on loan with newly promoted Eredivisie side Fortuna Sittard.

Having gained his initial first-team minutes with La Liga side Levante last season, right back Shaq Moore has arrived at Catalan side Reus Deportiu on a season-long loan. The 22-year-old got off to a good start over the weekend, tallying in a 2-0 preseason victory against Cambrils Unió.

More Permanent Moves

While many MNT players are out loan this season, some are also staying with their parent clubs.

In Germany, Josh Sargent is now eligible to play in official competition with Werder Bremen and has started well, scoring goals for the first team during preseason while also tallying in his first official match for the club’s U-23 side.

WATCH: Behind the Scenes with RISING MNT Striker Josh Sargent at Werder Bremen

A week after scoring in the MNT’s 1-1 draw with France, Julian Green signed a permanent deal with 2.Bundesliga side Greuther Fürth, who in part re-paid the MNT attacker for the goal that helped them avoid relegation on the final day of last season. It’s been a similar case for Kenny Saief. Sent on loan from Gent to Anderlecht during the second half of last season, the MNT winger made his move to the Belgian giants permanent in May.

After five seasons with English Championship side Nottingham Forest, veteran MNT right back Eric Lichaj signed a two-year deal with English Championship side Hull City.

Following a number of successful seasons with Pachuca, MNT center back Omar Gonzalez has taken his talents to Guadalajara with Atlas, while Michael Orozco joined Lobos BUAP earlier this summer.

Check out a full rundown of this summer’s MNT player moves:


New Club



Jorge Villafaña

Portland Timbers

Aug. 8, 2018

Transfer from Santos Laguna (MEX)

Bill Hamid

D.C. United

Aug. 8, 2018

Loan from Midtjylland (DEN)

Emerson Hyndman

Hibernian (SCO)

Aug. 8, 2018

Loan from Bournemouth (ENG)

Matt Miazga

Nantes (FRA)

Aug. 6, 2018

Loan from Chelsea (ENG)

Antonee Robinson

Wigan Athletic (ENG)

Aug. 3, 2018

Loan from Everton (ENG)

Kellyn Acosta

Colorado Rapids (USA)

July 23, 2018

Trade from FC Dallas (USA)

Shaq Moore

Reus Deportiu (ESP)

July 13, 2018

Loan from Levante (ESP)

Bobby Wood

Hannover 96 (GER)

July 9, 2018

Loan from Hamburg (GER)

Erik Palmer-Brown

NAC Breda (NED)

July 7, 2018

Loan from Manchester City (ENG)

Kekuta Manneh

St. Gallen (SUI)

June 24, 2018

Free transfer

Andrija Novakovich

Fortuna Sittard (NED)

June 22, 2018

Loan from Reading (ENG)

Omar Gonzalez

Atlas (MEX)

June 22, 2018

Free agent signing

Eric Lichaj

Hull City (ENG)

June 22, 2018

Transfer from Nottingham Forest (ENG)

Julian Green

Greuther Fürth (GER)

June 17, 2018

Signed permanent deal after spending last season on loan

Michael Orozco

Lobos BUAP (MEX)

June 7, 2018

Free transfer

Josh Sargent

Werder Bremen (GER)

June 1, 2018

Eligible to play

Kenny Saief

Anderlecht (BEL)

May 23, 2018

Signed permanent deal after spending last season on loan

Alfredo Morales

Fortuna Düsseldorf (GER)

May 15, 2018

Free transfer

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MNT Aug 14, 2018
US Soccer

USA Wins 2018 Concacaf Girls' U-15 Championship 3-0 vs. Mexico

BRADENTON, Fla. (August 13, 2018) – The USA took first place at the 2018 Concacaf Girls’ U-15 Championship with a 3-0 victory against Mexico as forward Jaedyn Shaw scored twice and forward Alyssa Thompson scored once.

The teams battled to a 0-0 draw through regulation in the 70-minute match, necessitating two 10-minute overtime periods to decide the champion, which would have been followed by penalty kicks had the USA not tallied three times. Shaw scored in the 77th and 80+2nd minutes and Thompson tallied the 90th to earn a well-deserved victory.

The win was even more impressive considering the USA brought a younger team to this competition which mostly features players born in 2003. The USA roster included 14 players born in 2004 and four in 2005.

It was Shaw who finally broke the deadlock six minutes into the first overtime period, but it was Thompson who created the goal, dribbling centrally from the right wing into the middle before slipping a perfect pass behind the defense to Shaw inside the penalty area. She then deftly chipped the ball over the onrushing Mexico goalkeeper Azul Alvarez from eight yards out.

At the very end of the first overtime period, Alyssa Thompson (her sister Gisele also played the entire match) burst free into the penalty area off a phenomenal over-the-top pass from Katherine Raeder and then was taken down from behind by a Mexican defender Jana Gutierrez. Shaw stepped up and buried the spot kick herself to stake the young Americans to a 2-0 lead with 10 minutes left to play.

Thompson added an exclamation point to victory with a nifty goal in the final minute of the second overtime period, racing behind the Mexican defense off a perfect through ball from Juliauna Hayward before rounding the ‘keeper to her right and slotting home into the empty net.

The match would not have gotten to overtime without two great saves from U.S. goalkeeper Teagan Wy in first half, or one from Alvarez on a blast from Olivia Moultrie that was headed into upper right corner before she flew to push it away.

Wy played a fantastic match but did make have one stumble in the 51st minute when she came out of her goal and slid to corral a ball far outside the left post. The ball got away from her and was stripped by a Mexican player who dribble down the line at an open net with Wy giving chase. Fortunately for the USA, her angle was tight and defender Maggie Taitano used her entire 5-foot-3 frame to make herself big, blocking the shot on the goal line with her thigh. It was Taitano’s second goal line clearance of the tournament after also making a game-saving play against Portugal.

In the 56th minute, Alvarez came up big again on a blistering free kick from Shaw, pushing it off the crossbar with a full-out dive to her right.

Mexico made a push at the end of regulation time but Wy, showing calmness beyond her years, made a great diving save on well-struck 16-yard shot from Karla Rodriguez in first minute of stoppage time to keep game scoreless. Wy was forced into action in the 2nd minute of stoppage time as well, standing her ground to snag another dangerous wide-open shot from the middle of the penalty spot, and the match went to overtime.

The USA allowed just two goals over the five games in the tournament, neither from the run of play, as Portugal scored two penalty kicks in a group play win that the USA avenged with a 3-0 result in the semifinal.

This was the second Concacaf U-15 title for the USA after also winning in 2016. The USA did not participate in the first edition of the tournament in 2014.

With 28 nations competing in two divisions, this was the largest Concacaf tournament ever for female participants and features a record number of Concacaf Member Associations as well as two invited teams from UEFA. 

U.S. U-15 Girls’ National Team Match Report

Match: United States U-15 GNT vs Mexico U-15 GNT
Date: August 12, 2018
Competition: 2018 CONCACAF Girls’ Under-15 Championship – Final
Venue: IMG Academy Soccer Stadium, Bradenton, Fla.
Weather: 87 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary:    1          2          ET1     ET2     F                     
USA                             0          0          2          1          3         
MEX                            0          0          0          0          0

USA - Jaedyn Shaw (Alyssa Thompson)                  76th minute
USA - Jaedyn Shaw (Penalty Kick)                           80
USA - Alyssa Thompson (Juliauna Hayward)           90       

USA: 1-Teagan Wy, 2-Gisele Thompson, 4-Elise Evans (15-Amelia Van Zanten, 36), 5-Maggie Taitano, 3-Evelyn Shores (13-Maia Tabion, 36), 6-Yuna McCormack (16-Maggie Cagle, 46), 10-Olivia Moultrie (8-Sofia Cook, 36 (7-Allison Montoya, 71)), 18-Juliauna Hayward, 9-Alyssa Thompson, 11-Jaedyn Shaw, 14-America Frias (17-Katherine Rader, 36)
Subs not used: 12-Nona Reason
Head Coach: April Kater

MEX: 12-Azul Alvarez, 2-Alexandra Godinez (14-Wendy Jimenez, 77), 4-Jana Gutierrez, 6-Andrea Balcazar, 7-Aylin Avilez, 8-Martha Enciso (16-Dalia Vidrio, 46), 9-Karla Rodriguez, 10-Denise Castro, 11-Jimena Hermenegildo (17-Maryan Reyes, 46), 13-Karol Bernal, 15-Nailea Arrambide (18-Layla Garcia, 81)
Subs not used: 1-Isabela Equivias, 3-Litzy Morales, 5-Havi Ibarra
Head Coach: Maribel Dominguez

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 11 / 11
Shots on Goal: 7 / 4
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 1
Fouls: 1 / 8
Offside: 1 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
MEX – Denise Castro (caution)                                  78th minute
MEX – Jana Gutierrez (caution)                                 80

Referee: Jelena Cvetkovic (SRB)
Assistant Referee 1: Danijela Stojanovic (SRB)
Assistant Referee 2: Ivana Jovanovic (SRB)
4th Official: Zulema Gonzalez (ESP)

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U-15 GNT Aug 13, 2018
US Soccer

Hard-Fought, Comeback Draw vs. Spain Not Enough for USA to Advance at 2018 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup

DINAN-LEHON, France (Aug. 13, 2018) – The USA rallied from two goals down to draw European champion Spain 2-2 in the third and final Group C match for both teams, but the Americans needed a win to advance to the quarterfinals and exited the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup despite the thrilling comeback.

With Japan defeating Paraguay 6-0 in the other Group C match taking place at the same time, the USA needed a victory to jump over Spain and earn a spot in the quarterfinals. Spain had the better of the early going and got on the board in the seventh minute through Patri Guijarro who finished after a misplayed U.S. clearance. The second Spain goal came in 42nd minute and put the USA in a deep hole. The U.S. once again failed to clear, this time a long free kick, and Lucia Garcia scored from close range.

The USA got its footing midway through the first half with forward Erin Gilory creating danger down the left wing. With the help of two substitutes, forward Abigail Kim and midfielder Brianna Pinto, the USA pushed to get back in the match in the second half. The Americans had the better of the game in the last 20 minutes, eventually matching Spain’s 16 total shots, but fell just short despite showing tremendous mental toughness to earn two late goals.

The USA scored in the 82nd minute on a perfectly struck free kick from forward Sophia Smith. When Savannah DeMelo’s deflected shot spun into the net in the 87th minute, the USA had about seven minutes, including stoppage time, to produce the game-winner which would have secured advancement.

Despite several dangerous forays into the attacking third as the minutes ticked away, and a volley by Gilroy that sailed over the net in the waning moments, the USA could not get the goal it needed and failed to advance out of its group at the U-20 Women’s World Cup for the first time in nine tournaments.

Spain won Group C with seven points and Japan finished second with six.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
ESP – Patri Guijarro, 8th minute: Spanish captain Patri Guijarro went on a nifty run through the midfield before passing to Claudia Pino in the right side of the penalty box. Her cross was knocked down by defender Kiara Pickett and fell to Jaelin Howell in front of the U.S. goal, but her hurried clearance went straight to Guijarro at the top of the penalty box. Guijarro had time to settle the ball before driving her shot into the lower left corner, giving U.S. goalkeeper Laurel Ivory no chance. USA 0, ESP 1

ESP – Lucia Garcia (Patri Guijarro), 42nd minute: On a free kick from about 40 yards out, Aitana Bonmati launched the ball into the penalty area. Guijarro headed it down and the ball fell at the feet of Garcia. She hit it hard toward the right side of the goal from close range and although Ivory got her hands on it, the ball slipped under her and rolled across the goal line. USA 0, ESP 2

USA – Sophia Smith, 82nd minute: The USA employed some trickery on a free kick from just outside the left corner of the penalty box. Two players ran over the ball before Smith drove a spinning shot through numerous players in front of the net and it stuck just inside the right post to give the USA life. The goal was Smith’s third in the World Cup and 24th at the U-20 level, tying her for second on the USA’s all-time U-20 scoring list. Smith is age-eligible for the 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup as well. USA 1, ESP 2

USA – Savannah DeMelo (Samantha Hiatt), 87th minute: DeMelo got her fourth goal of the tournament with a driven shot from about 30 yards out that was deflected off the hip Spanish defender Damaris Egurrola and spun into the right corner past-the wrong-footed goalkeeper to pull the USA to within one goal of a quarterfinal berth. USA 2, ESP 2 FINAL

Key Stops:
ESP – Catalina Coll, 20th minute: Pressure from Erin Gilroy forced a Spanish turnover deep in its own territory. Sophia Smith latched into the loose ball and played it to Viviana Villacorta at the top of the penalty box. The midfielder evaded a defender with a nice dribble and rocketed a well-placed shot that was headed into the top right corner before Spanish goalkeeper Coll made a leaping save to push the ball away.

USA – Ashley Sanchez, 39th minute: Spain played a short corner which resulted in a cross into the penalty area and Guijarro fired a shot on goal that was headed into the lower right corner before Sanchez, defending at the post, cleared the ball away.   

- U.S. U-20 Women's National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team vs. Spain
Date: August 13, 2018
Competition: 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup – Group C
Venue: Stade du Clos Gastel; Dinan-Léhon, France
Kickoff: 7:30 a.m. ET (1:30 p.m. local time)
Attendance: 1981
Weather: 70 degrees, cloudy

Scoring Summary:      1          2          F
USA                             0          2          2
ESP                              2          0          2

ESP – Patricia Guijarro                                   7th minute
ESP – Lucia Garcia (Patricia Guijarro)             42
USA – Sophia Smith                                        83
USA – Savannah DeMelo (Samantha Hiatt)   87

USA: 1-Laurel Ivory; 13-Kiara Pickett, 16-Samantha Hiatt (capt.), 4-Naomi Girma, 14-Isabel Rodriguez (6-Penelope Hocking, 73); 11-Viviana Villacorta, 18-Jaelin Howell (8-Brianna Pinto, 59), 10-Savannah DeMelo; 19-Erin Gilroy 9-Sophia Smith, 2-Ashley Sanchez (17-Abigail Kim, 46)
Subs not used: 3-Tara McKeown, 5-Zoe Morse, 7-Alexa Spaanstra, 12-Amanda McGlynn, 15-Taryn Torres, 20-Emily Fox, 21-Angelina Anderson
Head coach: Jitka Klimkova

ESP: 21-Catalina Coll, 12-Lucia Rodriguez, 3-Berta Pujadas, 4-Laia Aleixandri, 11-Carmen Menayo; 18-Eva Navarro (15-Candela Andujar, 74), 6-Damaris Egurrola, 8-Patricia Guijarro (capt.); 20-Claudia Pina, 17-Lucia Garcia (7-Nuria Rabano, 59), 14-Aitana Bonmati
Subs not used: 1-Maria Isabel Rodriguez, 2-Ona Battle, 5-Andrea Sierra, 9-Paula Fernandez, 10-Maite Oroz, 13-Noella Ramos, 16-Silvia Rubio, 19-Paula Sancho
Head coach: Pedro Lopez

Stats Summary: USA / ESP
Shots: 16 / 16
Shots on Goal: 7 / 8
Saves: 5 / 5
Corner Kicks: 2 / 2
Fouls: 8 / 7
Offside: 0 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
ESP – Aitana Bonmati             71st minute

Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley (NZL)
Assistant Referee 1: Lata Kaumatule (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: Maria Salamasina (SAM)
4th Official: Jana Adamkova (CZE)

ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: TBA

2018 U-20 FIFA WWC Final Group C Standings














































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U-20 WNT Aug 13, 2018
US Soccer

For Abigail Kim, It's All About Family, On the Field and Off

Abi Kim has roots that run wide and deep.

She calls Vashon, Washington home, but was born in Liberia to a Ghanaian father and a Liberian mother.

At age three, she was adopted and came to the United States. Ever since, she’s been raised by her Korean-American father, Jin, and British mother, Sue, who have played a major role in her path to represent the United States at the 2018 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.

Her origins in soccer-mad West Africa may have set the foundation for her soccer success, but her adopted family guided her down the path to take on the world in France.

“I have a pretty diverse family,” Kim said. “At the Fourth of July when I was younger, we’d have all the different flags: the Korean flag, the American flag, the Liberian flag, the Ghanaian flag, we had it all. It just really showed how diverse we were and how we came together as one.”

Before she committed fully to soccer, Kim used to star on the track and on the hardwood. Wherever she competed, she stood out as the fastest player on whatever surface she ran on.

“I definitely got my speed from my dad, ,” Kim said. “But believe it or not, when I was four years old, I literally did not know how to run. My brother had to teach me. He’d be like, ‘Put one foot in front of the other.’ Whenever I do anything, he’s like, ‘Well, it’s because of me, because I taught you how to run.’”

As Kim grew up, she started to get more serious with both soccer and track. As early as her freshman year of high school, the Unversity of Oregon, a standard-bearer of collegiate track, expressed interest in her talents on the oval.  

Kim faced a tough decision as she looked to focus on a single sport. In the end, soccer had an unsurmountable advantage over track. The sport was intertwined with family, a theme that has permeated her life since she joined the Kims in 2001.

“Track was really fun, but even with your friends on the team, you’re competing against them. You don’t have the family feel of a soccer team,” Kim said. “When it came down to it, I like having the family feel. That’s one of my favorite things: doing something you love with people you love.”

By the end of her freshman year, Kim had committed to play at the University of California-Berkeley for the Golden Bears. She did keep running track “for fun” and led the Vashon Island Pirates to four straight state championships.

In October of 2015 during her senior year, she received an e-mail she never expected, and would never forget -- an invitation to a U.S. U-18 Women’s National Team camp in Chula Vista, Calif. The forward had seen U.S. Soccer scouts at her club games while playing for Pac Northwest, but she assumed they had come to watch a teammate.

“I saw the e-mail and I was like ‘For me?’” Kim said. “I was nervous, but talking to my parents, they said ‘Do the best you can, have fun and just shine.’ It was a pretty big jump, but there were a lot of new people at that camp so that made the transition a little bit easier for me.”

Kim made an impression in that first event. After two years spent with the U-18 and U-19 WNTs during the 2015-16 cycle, Kim earned an invite to the first camp of the new U-20 WNT cycle in March of 2017. She has been invited to every camp since with the U-20s.

“She has exceptional speed, which is her biggest strength,” U-20 WNT head coach Jitka Klimkova said. “If she decides to beat a player one-on-one with her speed, she is usually successful. Now, she’s also getting better technically and with her decision making. Her touches are cleaner and her decisions are more efficient.”

Kim chose soccer as her sport because of its family aspect and the U-20s have developed into the kind of close-knit group that made her fall in love with the game even more. In 2018, the team has gathered for training camps and international games almost every month. All the time together has forged the group into an inseparable unit.

“I’ve been with the National Team a lot this year,” Kim said. “I think all the camps we’ve done were necessary and the bond we’ve made is really strong. We have fun with each other off the field and then we push each other on the field. We know how people play. We know how to pick out the best in each other and make each other strong.”

As the U-20 WNT grew throughout the cycle, so has Kim’s game. She still can outrun anyone on the field, but all of the time spent playing alongside the nation’s best has helped her to round out her skills. She’s worked on her weaker foot, combination play and getting her head on the ball.

“I have more confidence,” Kim said. “I know I have speed, but I’ve been working on other stuff so I’m not just a fast player. Now I can head the ball, so they have to mark me. I’ve worked on my left foot so I can cut it and take a shot, pick out a player. I’ve become a way better player.”

The overall improvements have made Kim ready to make an impact during the team’s run in France. As a substitute in the USA’s opener against Japan, Kim provided a spark off the bench and helped to create some quality chances. She came off the bench again against Paraguay and notched an assist on the USA’s sixth goal, which completed a historic hat trick for Savannah DeMelo.

At the World Cup venues in France, flags fly for to represent the participating nations. That sight isn’t unfamiliar to Kim. It echoes back to those Fourth of July celebrations with all of her family’s origins waving in the wind.

“I always dreamed of playing in a World Cup,” Kim said. “Now, that it’s actually here, I’m really humbled and honored. I think I as much as anyone I can appreciate how global this game is and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”

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U-20 WNT Aug 13, 2018