WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — U.S. forward Sydney Leroux, a native of British Columbia, has no idea what the reception will be when she steps onto the field for the World Cup in Canada.
Any Canadian fans who think Leroux betrayed her roots, be warned.
“I feel like the worst you can do is boo me and try to make me feel bad,” she said with a wry grin. “Because that just makes me hungrier.”
Leroux and her U.S. teammates open soccer’s premier tournament on Monday with a group-stage match against Australia in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The World Cup is being played across six Canadian cities over the course of the next month, concluding with the final on July 5 in Vancouver.
The United States, ranked second in the world, is among a tough group that includes the Matildas, as the 10th-ranked Australians are known, Sweden and former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, and perennial African champion Nigeria.
Leroux is part of a dangerous pool of forwards on the U.S. team. Led by Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach, the group also includes Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez.
“It’s probably the deepest team in the world,” Leroux said. “There’s going to be games where you’re not going to start, it’s all going to be up to what the game asks for. We’re all ready for that, and we all know what we need to do.”
At 15, and holding dual citizenship, Leroux decided to move to Arizona — alone — in hopes of grabbing the attention of the U.S. Soccer. It worked. The UCLA alum was a promising U20 player for the United States before joining the senior team in 2011. She had a breakout the next year, scoring 14 goals as a sub.
Known for her speed, Leroux is lethal on the fast break, as evidenced by her two goals — the first coming at a seemingly impossible angle — in an exhibition last month against Mexico in Carson, California.
But earlier this year, Leroux struggled with a right foot injury that happened in training. She missed a pair of European exhibitions, a 2-0 loss to France in Lorient and a victory over England in Milton Keynes. The injury dogged her for 3
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