First up this week is my favorite striker, Christen Press. Even if you don’t follow women’s soccer, you may be familiar with names like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd. These three shined under former head coach Jill Ellis from 2014–19. But with Rapinoe and Lloyd’s looming retirements, Ellis’ exit and Morgan’s maternity leave, 2020 is absolutely shaping up to be Press’ year. The depth of strikers on the United States women’s national team (USWNT) is incredible, which may help explain why it took so long for Press to enter the national spotlight. But now that she’s here, CP23 is certainly making a lasting impact on the game.
The 31-year-old striker hails from California where she attended Stanford University. With 71 goals, she still holds the title as the Cardinal’s all-time leading goal scorer. She also went on to win the 2010 Mac Hermann Trophy –– beating Alex Morgan for the award. Yet, despite a successful college career, it took until 2013 for her to finally earn her first cap (appearance) with the national team, and even then, her minutes were still limited for the next several years. In many ways, one could describe her journey to the national team as a true underdog story.
With two World Cup wins (2015, 2019) under her belt, Christen Press then spent the early half of 2020 scoring golazos for the USWNT in international friendlies during the team’s quest to Tokyo 2021. Something I’d say is quite unique to Press is her ability to score from outside the box. It’s clear that she has incredible vision and a powerful strike because her goals are absolute wonders to witness. Under new head coach Vlatko Andonovski, Press has scored seven goals in eight appearances for the USWNT in 2020. One can only wonder how many more goals she could have scored had the season resumed normally. With the COVID-19 pandemic complicating many players’ ability to play, she’s now heading to Manchester United with her USWNT teammate Tobin Heath. This is the first time she’ll be playing for an abroad team since 2018 when she signed for Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC in the Swedish Damallsvenskan league. Considering the streak she was on in the beginning of the year, there is no doubt that she will be making an impact the moment she steps onto the pitch.
Unfortunately for U.S. fans, that means we won’t be able to see her play in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) –– meaning we won’t be seeing Press’ golazos on national television anytime soon (the NWSL is hosting the Fall Series on CBS with games airing every Saturday in September to Oct. 17), but luckily we’ll still be able to watch her play on The FA Player, a free streaming platform which is self-described as the “home of women’s football.” Considering the number of footy players heading over to Europe –– Alex Morgan to Tottenham, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle to Manchester City –– maybe Europe really does deserve the title –– at least for this year. Only time will tell, but in the meantime … pull up a chair, kick up your feet and let’s enjoy some women’s soccer.