The National Women’s Soccer League chapter is underway for Boston Breakers and the scorer of their first ever goal in the division, the irrepressible US Women’s National Team forward and Olympic Gold medallist Sydney Leroux, is staying true to her trusted method of battling to the last to attain her objectives.
Turning 23 next month, the former US Under-20 star has a story that surely anyone connected to the women’s game will be aware of. Born in Surrey, British Columbia with Canadian-American parentage, Sydney was courageous and spirited enough to leave home at 14 with her heart set on emulating Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and the rest of the 1999 World Cup-winning heroes she watched as a child on television, by making it on the US national team. There have been so many roadblocks on her way thus far but the voices of those who doubted her have long since been drowned out by the ones in her corner.
After a record 14-goal haul from the bench during 2012 for the US, and Gold at London 2012, her value and reputation is without question and Boston Breakers supporters were rightly excited when her name was announced as one of the club’s allocated national team players back in January. She got off the mark with a last-gasp equaliser in the 1-1 home draw with Washington Spirit earlier this month, the first NWSL game for the Breakers, and that unerring tenacity and willingness to keep on to the end is an inherent quality. When you have made such an emphatic early impact in your career you need a soundtrack to further colourise those moments and Sydney provides that insight.
“My favourite genres vary by my mood. I love Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd, Drake, J. Cole, Macklemore, Pink, Muse, OneRepublic, Kendrick Lamar, Mumford & Sons, Rihanna, and of course Beyonce!
“I’ve voiced my opinions before on Ed Sheeran’s ‘+’ album – I think it’s amazing. ‘Give Me Love’, ‘Sunburn’, ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Kiss Me’ are some of my faves.
“But I love Drake’s ‘Take Care’, Macklemore’s ‘The Heist’, and Mumford & Sons ‘Babel’ album.’’
When it comes to sending motivation into overdrive, taking you back to a specific point of your personal story, or giving you the key to that emotional outpouring that you have been longing for, there is nothing quite as incredible as music. For Sydney, this is certainly a sentiment she can identify with.
“Music is so important – it gets you through everything. There’s a song for every mood, feeling, and obstacle and that’s what I love most about it.
“I guess it depends on my mood, what I’m doing, what I’m getting ready for.’’
The Breakers’ number 2 graduated from UCLA last year with a major in History and she is naturally very familiar with the West Coast, including when it came to the first CD she ever had. This Compton hip-hop icon and former NWA and World Class Wreckin’ Cru member’s 1999 album ‘2001’ somehow found its way into Sydney’s possession, but even if it was ‘another classic CD for y’all to vibe with’ it did not meet her mother Sandi’s approval!
“Dr. Dre! I was like 9, and there were so many swear words in it my Mom took it back to the store! For a moment though, I was pretty bad considering I was the only kid at elementary school to have his CD.’’
Former Australian women’s national team coach Tom Sermanni took over from the hugely successful and revered Pia Sundhage at the helm of the US team at the beginning of this year and the Scot has quickly set about focusing upon a mix of emerging gems and established winners. One of the players he has given a chance to is Kristie Mewis, midfielder for FC Kansas City and Sydney’s best friend. The song they both love for game day is Nicki Minaj’s ‘Va Va Voom’ and Sydney has also had the benefit of sharing locker rooms with many of the game’s most recognised names, despite her young age. She decided to give a wholly diplomatic answer when she had the opportunity to call some of her teammates out for unusual song choices!
“I’ve played on a lot of teams with very different people, which is definitely something to embrace! I have players who are more than 10 years older than me, so obviously growing up they listened to different music than I did, but I like some old school 1980s/1990s jams!’’
Back in February, US midfield favourite and current Olympique Lyonnais player Megan Rapinoe gave her own interview on here and she told how the song ‘Some Nights’ by Fun was the standout track for the national team during their run to Olympic glory last summer in London. Sydney gives an update on the playlist that has featured in recent months for the team as the backdrop for such moments as their Algarve Cup success in March. FC Kansas City forward / midfielder and former Boston Breaker Lauren Cheney has been mentioned many times on here previously by her colleagues for her spot as the team DJ and she has yet to relinquish the honour.
“Yes, ‘Some Nights’ was definitely our song. We still listen to the Olympic playlist when we’re getting ready for a game but Rihanna and Beyonce have been appearing more often – ‘Pour It Up’ and ‘Stay’ to be specific.
“Lauren and I appreciate each other’s music taste, and we’re of course both Bruins so she lets me take control sometimes! We switch off.’’
In my interview with Megan Rapinoe, we looked at her talent for singing and playing guitar and she has been called upon to give her compatriots an acoustic rendition in the past. Sydney has witnessed this of course and she gives her verdict on Pinoe’s vocal ability as well as taking the opportunity to pick out Breakers midfielder and national team mainstay Heather O’Reilly too.
“Pinoe can sing, I’ll give my girl that! But HAO (Heather Ann O’Reilly) can rap.
“We have a lot of fun in the locker room with our music and dancing. Luckily there are no behind the scenes videos of that!
“People are able to be funny and let go and be themselves without being judged, except by me, I do judge people’s dance moves.’’
Lauren Cheney was discussing Sydney once and described how behind her fun personality and aggressive play on the field lay genuine heart for people. Sydney replaced her fellow one-time UCLA Bruin in a game with Guatemala in January 2012 at half-time. The match took place close to where she grew up, in Vancouver, meaning that Sydney was the recipient of hostility from Canadian fans as a result of her decision to represent the US, the nation of her father Ray Chadwick’s birth. In her mind she said she turned the ‘boo’ sounds into ‘Leroux’ and the stunning five goals she hit as the team stormed to a 13-0 success was an unshakeable reminder of her prowess.
Sydney was the number one pick in the 2012 Women’s Professional Soccer Draft as she was acquired by Atlanta Beat. As it transpired, the league’s breakdown meant she never played for the team and she latterly spent some time with Seattle Sounders of the W-League. The Olympic Games were however the momentous sporting occasion of last year and Sydney was part of the Gold medal triumph, scoring at Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park in a 2-0 win over New Zealand in the quarter-final. The US team’s achievement, their fourth Gold and third in succession, is something Sydney mentioned as a springboard when discussing the NWSL and the women’s game overall.
“Women’s soccer is huge, especially in the US with the attention the US Women’s National Team has drawn from the World Cup and Olympics. I think it’s amazing to be a part of something so special, that people and kids love.’’
Although this interview is here to provide a light-hearted insight for fans of Sydney, the Breakers, the USWNT, and indeed anyone else with an interest, it would not seem right to gloss over last week’s events in Boston. As heartfelt respects are paid for Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard and Lu Lingzi who lost their lives in the explosions during the marathon, and MIT police officer Sean Collier who died in the suspects manhunt, this compassionate city continues to pull together. Sport is engrained in the fibre of Boston and hopefully over the coming months the Breakers will be able to go some way at least towards providing some smiles for the people after a tragedy that has deeply affected so many.
Last Saturday’s (20th April) fixture away to FC Kansas City was postponed and the Breakers’ next game is away to Western New York Flash this Saturday (27th) at Sahlen’s Stadium. Soccer returns to Dilboy Stadium when the team host Chicago Red Stars on Saturday May 4th.
The opening game home draw with Washington Spirit in which Sydney struck a late leveller was witnessed by a sell-out crowd of 2,634. Head coach Lisa Cole, previously assistant to World Cup-winning USWNT boss Tony DiCicco at the club, is in her second season in charge after finishing the WPSL Elite regular season as winners last year before defeat in the semi-final. This season has already presented its unforeseen circumstances including the retirement of three-time Olympic Gold medallist and defender Heather Mitts as well as anterior cruciate ligament injuries to the versatile Casey Short and defender Bianca D’Agostino. Optimism springs eternal however, and coach Cole has her recognised pros and exciting youngsters to choose from with Australian hotshot Kyah Simon, Athens 2004 Gold medallist and defender Cat Whitehill, and three-time Olympic winner and midfielder Heather O’Reilly amongst the personnel.
Sydney has already rose to the fore with her goal past Ashlyn Harris but if the Breakers need someone to make themselves heard in the locker room then the former Vancouver Whitecap will not be sharing her singing capabilities!
“There is no chance I would ever do that. I’m not shy but I’m not stupid either, only sometimes, and my voice is terrible.
“When I sing, Boss howls and that isn’t a good sign. I won’t even sing in front of him anymore.’’
The mention of Sydney’s Chihuahua, Boss, will spark familiarity with those who know all about her and he will surely help her in this the latest of travels that have permeated her young life.
“I mean I’ve been moving around since I was 14 years old and it feels like I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past year. I’m used to it but it’s going to feel nice being settled in one place for longer than a week and I’m extremely excited to have Boss here with me.’’
Lisa Cole sees the longest-serving Breaker Katie Schoepfer providing plenty of scoring chances for Sydney through her unerring hard work and although judgements will be made by many observers based on her goal tally Sydney sees her responsibilities expanding further.
“I hope to bring other aspects of my game out. I want to play a bigger role than just scoring goals, so we’ll see!
“I can promise I’m always going to give it everything I’ve got.’’
There is a regular concluding question on here in which I ask the players to choose a team of five, including themselves, comprising the best teammates they have worked with in their career so far. Sydney has always tackled the challenges that her career has brought her to date but even for a ‘Honey Badger’ like herself this was one she preferred to sidestep, just like she has with opposition defenders on the odd occasion here and there!
“This is hard! I literally could choose everyone on my team.
“They all bring something different and I honestly believe that I play with the best players in the world so that’s a tough one!’’
Follow me on Twitter: @chris_brookes
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