Tierna Davidson is not your average 19-year-old, on or off the field.
Davidson, who is considering a major in biomedical computation, bioengineering or human biology at Stanford University, carries herself with a maturity that belies her years. She speaks calmly and eloquently. She chooses her words carefully and is detailed and thoughtful in her answers. She is also confident and in control. All those qualities were brightly on display during the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, on and off the field.
She is a sophomore at Stanford and just 19-years-old
Davidson started and played all 90 minutes in all three games of the tournament. She performed extremely well against three of the world’s best teams, all while playing in the key position of central defense alongside Abby Dahlkemper, no veteran herself with just 17 caps.
At 5-foot-10, Davidson is long and lean, remarkably fluid on the field and seemingly in synch with whatever is going on around her. She was one of only three U.S. players, along with Dahlkemper and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, to play every minute of the SheBelieves Cup.
She won balls in the air and on the ground. She chased down players on counter-attacks and gritted out timely clears. With the ball at her feet she was superb, making quality decisions and helping set the rhythm of the U.S. attack, often breaking a line when she darted into midfield with the ball to unbalance the defense. She even made a goal line save with just five minutes left against England to thwart an equalizer during the de facto tournament championship match. If England had scored, it would have won the tournament.
Battling for a ball against England on March 7
Even though she was by far the least experienced starter on the field, Davidson often looked like one of the best players. For those not versed in the 2018 U.S. Women’s National Team, it was likely hard to believe the games marked only her second, third and fourth senior team caps. She grew with every game and against England was a key player in securing the victory that helped the USA win the tournament.
U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis was extremely pleased with Davidson’s performance.
“Tierna was fantastic today,” Ellis said on March 4 after the 1-1 draw vs. France. “Her timing to come across from the weak side and snuff out chances in the box was excellent. Her aerial presence and her composure on the ball were great. She’s a very solid player and her end-point is going to be very high, but I already like where she is. She’s got a great left foot and she was very good today with a lot to deal with.”
Three days later, Ellis once again was impressed with Davidson, this time pointing out how difficult it is for a young defender to excel against this kind of competition in a tournament environment.
“This was her best performance,” Ellis said after the U.S. WNT defeated England 1-0 to earn the 2018 SheBelieves Cup title. “She’s been so solid and calm. I told her that I was so incredibly proud of her. To step in at that age in her first real time with this team and to be at this kind of level of competition, it speaks volumes about her and I’m really excited about where she’s headed because she was fantastic tonight.”
She earned her first cap and career assist with the WNT on Jan. 21 vs. Denmark
With a foot injury to veteran center back Becky Sauerbrunn sidelining her for this year’s January training camp and the friendly match against Denmark on Jan. 21, Davidson was given the starting nod against the Danes in San Diego and earned her first cap. She was the third teenager since 2013 to earn a first cap for the WNT. Mallory Pugh (17 in 2016) and Lindsey Horan (19 in 2013) were the most recent teenagers to debut. Davidson still has two years of college soccer left and has already led Stanford to an NCAA Championship, playing a key role in the Cardinal’s run to the title last season in the same stadium where the USA took down England to win the SheBelieves Cup.
Davidson performed well enough during that January camp in Los Angeles in what was her first extended training time with the U.S. team to earn a spot on the SheBelieves Cup roster and, with Sauerbrunn still recovering, got a chance to perform against the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 6 teams in the world while facing off against some of the world’s most dangerous strikers. The teenager delivered and earned the respect of her teammates.
“Tierna is just a really calm player who is always going to find the best solution in the back,” U.S. WNT forward Alex Morgan said after the England game. “When she initially came in with this team and played outside back and I think it was a bit out of her comfort zone, but they moved her to center back and immediately she looked like a veteran. With Becky’s injury and her not being here for the last couple of camps, I feel like [Tierna] stepped up and matured incredibly fast. If someone were watching I don’t think they would say she’s 19-years-old. She’s was fantastic for us, and [against England] she saved a clear goal right off the goal line.”
While the core of players that Ellis will move forward with in 2018 is mostly set, there is always a chance for a new player to get a call-up, earn a chance to play and show she’s got what it takes to help the team.
Davidson’s performances over just four games are a glowing example of that kind of opportunity.
“This was an invaluable experience,” Davidson said after the tournament. “It was the best way to get to know the team, to get comfortable against some world-class teams and to really find my footing within the team. Playing against teams like that kept me on my toes and I got less nervous as the games went on, so in that sense the game slowed down a bit, but of course, I had to speed up my play as well. Before the games, it’s hard not to think about who you’re playing, but once you’re on the field, it’s just another game and another opponent. Whether it’s college players or world-class players, I’m ready to step up to it.”
On and off the field.Read more
USA vs. England
Date: March 7, 2018
Venue: Orlando City Stadium; Orlando, Fla.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT
Tonight’s Starting XI vs. England: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 16-Emily Sonnett, 17-Tierna Davidson, 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 19-Crystal Dunn; 20-Allie Long, 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 9-Lindsey Horan; 11-Mallory Pugh, 13-Alex Morgan, 15-Megan Rapinoe
Subs: 2-Casey Short, 3-Andi Sullivan, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 6-Morgan Brian, 8-Julie Ertz, 12-Lynn Williams, 14-Sofia Huerta, 18-Jane Campbell, 22-Taylor Smith, 23-Christen Press, 24-Ashlyn Harris, 26-Savannah McCaskill
- After having only three players (Sauerbrunn, Mewis, Lloyd) start all three SheBelieves games in 2017, the U.S. WNT has had seven start all three in 2018 (Naeher, Dahlkemper, Davidson, Horan, Pugh, Morgan, Rapinoe).
- Five players in the USA’s starting lineup (Dunn, Lloyd, Horan, Pugh and Morgan) started against France at last year’s SheBelieves Cup.
- Just like it in the first three USA matches of 2018, there are two teenagers in the USA's starting XI today, in 19-year-olds Mallory Pugh and Tierna Davidson, both of whom are age-eligible for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. Against Denmark in San Diego, the pair combined for two goals and two assists. Before that match in San Diego, the last time two teenagers were in the WNT starting lineup was June 30, 2001 vs. Canada in Toronto. Aleisha Cramer (18) and Cat Whitehill (19) both played the entire game. Both Davidson and Andi Sullivan (who starts tonight on the bench) won the 2017 NCAA College Cup with Stanford in this stadium.
- Captaining the USA today is Carli Lloyd, who will earn cap No. 250. With her start tonight, she becomes the sixth player in U.S. history to earn 250 caps. She is sitting on 98 goals, two away from becoming the sixth player to score 100 or more for the USA, and the first since 2009 when Abby Wambach scored her 100th.
- While she played as a withdrawn forward for many of her minutes (since the knockout round of the 2015 Women's World Cup), she is still the highest scoring midfielder in U.S. history. Lloyd scored 36 international goals between the time she debuted six days before her 23rd birthday, and her 30th birthday. Since turning 30, she has scored 62 goals in just over five and a half years.
- Lloyd earned the 50th assist of her career on Julie Ertz' goal against Brazil on July 30, joining just seven other U.S. players to earn 50 or more assists in their careers. Lloyd is in eighth-place in all-time assists, but with six more, can move into fifth.
- Alyssa Naeher will earn her 27th cap tonight. She has 13 career shutouts, most recently against Germany on March 1, and is the seventh goalkeeper in U.S. history to earn 25 or more caps.
- Emily Sonnett will make her first start since Oct. 19, 2016 against Switzerland. She will earn her 15th cap tonight. She returned to the USA roster after finishing her stint in Australia during the NWSL off-season for Sydney FC where she helped lead her team to the Grand Final before falling 2-0 to a Melbourne City. Sonnett had an excellent 2017 NWSL season, anchoring the Portland Thorns back line to a championship and scored several key goals, including a header in the 4-1 NWSL semifinal win against Orlando. She scored four goals during in 2017 (on only six shots on goal), an impressive tally for a center back.
- Abby Dahlkemper makes her 17th career appearance today. The 2017 NWSL Defender of the Year made her debut for the U.S. on Oct. 19, 2016, against Switzerland in Utah, and earned her first start against Norway on June 11, 2017 where she played all 90 minutes to help the U.S. defense claim a shutout in Sandefjord.
- Crystal Dunn will earn her 59th career cap tonight and makes her first start since July 30, 2017 against Brazil. She will start tonight’s game as an outside back, a position she played during the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, and at the beginning of her senior WNT career.
- Davidson is making her fourth consecutive start in as many international appearances. She became the 21st woman to make a WNT debut under Jill Ellis on Jan. 21 in San Diego. She earned her first career assist on that game. The 19-year-old Davidson helped lead Stanford to the NCAA Championship this past season. She is the third teenager since 2013 to earn a first cap for the U.S. WNT. Mallory Pugh (17 in 2016) and Lindsey Horan (19 in 2013) are the most recent teenagers to debut for the WNT.
- Allie Long has six international goals, her most recent coming on Oct. 22 against Korea Republic. She will earn her 35th cap tonight, after appearing in 14 games for the USA in 2017 and coming on at the end of the Germany game on March 1.
- Lindsey Horan enjoyed a fine 2017, helping the Portland Thorns win the NWSL title by scoring the game-winning goal in the championship. For the WNT, she finished strong, establishing herself in the starting lineup. She will earn her 47th WNT cap today.
- Pugh earns her 33rd cap for the WNT tonight. She leads the WNT in scoring in 2018 after tallying her first career brace against Denmark on Jan. 21 and a goal against France on March 4. She is also making her 25th career start. She is second all-time in starts before the age of 20 behind only Tiffany Roberts (41).
- Alex Morgan comes into the match with 81 goals and will earn her 138th cap tonight. At age 28, she sits in sole possession of seventh place on the USA's all-time goal scoring list. She’s scored eight goals over her last 10 WNT matches, with her most recent coming on Jan. 21 against Denmark. Morgan plays her club soccer at this stadium, home to her NWSL team the Orlando Pride.
- Megan Rapinoe makes her 133rd international appearance today. She has 35 career goals after scoring the game-winning goal against Germany on March 1. She has tied April Heinrichs and Sydney Leroux for 15th on the all-time goals list.