Colorado Shines on World’s Biggest Stage

July 26, 2023

Horan and Smith deliver in USWNT World Cup opener

© Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Lindsey Horan and Sophia Smith, the stars of the United States Women’s National Team 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup debut, have more than just goals in common.

While the nation’s eyes were on the 11 American women representing the USA on the pitch against Vietnam on July 21, soccer fans in one state in particular had reason to smile. In Colorado, all eyes were on Smith and Horan, both natives of the Centennial State. Horan, who is captaining the USWNT for the first time at a world championship event, is a native of Golden, Colo. Smith, who is the reigning U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, made her World Cup debut and became the second youngest USWNT player to score multiple goals in a World Cup game; Smith grew up in Windsor, Colo.

Colorado may be nestled in the middle of the country, but its production in the sport of women’s soccer has become front and center. Texas, Florida and California may be known for producing the bulk of the country’s talent in football, while basketball players often come from famed cities like New York, L.A and Chicago. But it seems that Colorado has emerged as a place that produces an uncanny number of female soccer stars. From early standouts such as April Heinrichs, who attended Littleton, Colo.’s Heritage High School and earned 47 caps on the international stage from 1986 to 1991, to a younger generation of stars such as Mountain Vista phenom Malory Pugh, Valor Christian’s Jaelene Daniels, Fossil Ridge’s Jaelin Howell and Columbine’s Kristen Hamilton, Colorado has made significant contributions to the USWNT’s international success.

While Horan didn’t play for Golden High School, she starred for the Colorado Rush and Colorado Edge club teams. Smith played as a freshman for Fossil Ridge High School as well as club teams Arsenal and Real Colorado.

In the 3-0 win over Vietnam, the state of Colorado accounted for all three goals and one assist. Smith found the back of the net twice, while the captain scored in the 77th minute thanks to a nifty assist from none other than her state-mate Smith.

Tonight, the pair will lead the charge against the Netherlands. The USWNT is currently a -145 favorite. All eyes will once again be on the Americans as they look to advance to 2-0 in the World Cup group stage. If Smith and Horan shine as they did in the opening match, the state of Colorado will shine as well.