With the third season of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) coming up in the spring and Women’s World Cup 2015 hitting Canada this summer, there’s a lot to talk about concerning women’s soccer. And who better to talk to than Sky Blue FC midfielder and Canadian National Team’s leading goal scorer for 2014, Sophie Schmidt.
I recently caught up the former University of Portland standout at the Canada vs. Sweden friendly at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. After a 1-0 Canada victory and under a hot November sun, the Winnipeg native chatted about some of her triumphs and challenges of the past year.
You were the leading goal scorer for Canada this year. What did you do differently this year than you’ve done in the past?
Sophie Schmidt: I think it was just a mindset change – just in terms of taking more responsibility upon myself to score the goals and try to get myself into positions that are dangerous. Everybody knows that Sincy (Christine Sinclair) can score goals. And they’ve done a really good job of shutting her down. I think that’s also helped in opening up myself and some other players for good opportunities. I’m just trying to make the most of everything and… I love scoring goals. (Laughs)
On Instagram recently, you mentioned something about ‘living life out of a suitcase.’ Is traveling a downside to playing pro soccer?
SS: It is and it isn’t. It’s a double edged sword really. Love it and hate it. Love the part that we can go see the world and when its cold in Canada we can come down here to California where its warm. But the downside is that we don’t get to see family as much. We do live out of a suitcase and miss friends and family the most. But you know it’s for a limited time. Its going to be like this for awhile and then we’ll go back to normal life.
Speaking of Instagram, players are pretty active on social media now and its a great way to bring fans into your world. But are there some things you don’t like about social media?
SS: I love it because it does allow fans to see us, not just as soccer players, but as people as well. But the negative side is just the feedback you get from some fans. There are a lot of critics out there that like to bring you down, but it’s just a matter of kind of filtering that out and taking it as it comes.
You’ll be entering your third year in the NWSL. Do you have an overall impression of the league so far?
SS: It’s progressing. I think a lot of changes have happened since it started. For the first two years, we were kind of feeling it out. Now, I think clubs know what they need to do to be successful on and off the pitch. I think this next year is going to be interesting with the World Cup but clubs have a great direction and players are only benefiting from being in a more competitive league. I think its only going to get better.
Is there anything you would change to make it better?
SS: We’d love to have all the best players from all over the world. (Laughs). That would make it the best. I think the one downside is that the U.S. is so big and that the travel takes a toll on a season.
Sky Blue went on a run the last weeks of the season and almost squeaked into the playoffs. What did you guys do differently in those last 5 weeks?
SS: We had nothing to lose at that point. We worked really hard on our tactics and focusing on us. I think that we are a very technical team. We don’t have the big name players but we have a very talented group. And we believed in ourselves that we could win and we just finally went out and did that. Also the addition of Nadia Nadim from Denmark – she was tremendous and brought a lot of energy to the team. She kind of revived our spirits and I think we just carried that on even when she left.
This California trip is kind of a quick turnaround for you guys. Do you have any time to go sightseeing or do anything fun?
SS: The beach is like right here, so I think that’s all we need to see and just relax.
Listen to the unedited version of my interview with Sophie Schmidt on Women’s World Football Show in episode titled “Invading Spaces.”
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