Who Is Alyssa Naeher? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Second Goalkeeper Competing In The World Cup

Photo: getty
Who Is Alyssa Naeher? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Second Goalkeeper Competing In The World Cup

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has won all their games so far in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, defeating Thailand 13-0, Chile 3-0, Sweden 2-0, and Spain 2-1. They’re set to face off against France on June 28th in the quarter-finals and assuming they make it all the way to the finals, they’ll play on July 7th to become champions… again.

The U.S. team is the most successful team in international women’s soccer, winning three Women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. But they sure aren’t paid like they are, and because they make less than the men’s team, who isn’t nearly as successful, they filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, alleging unequal pay and violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

RELATED: Who Is Ashlyn Harris? New Details About The Soccer Star Who Just Got Engaged To Fellow Soccer Star Ali Krieger

The team won’t be distracted by the lawsuit as they make their way through the tournament. And being a soccer fan means getting to know the players’ personal lives, and who they are off the field. So, who is Alyssa Naeher? Here are 6 things to know about the second goalkeeper for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

1. She’s played from a young age.

As early as four years old, Naeher recalled an incident where she and her twin sister, Amanda, were headed to their first practice. Amanda accidentally slammed Alyssa’s hand in the door, with her nails falling off after turning black and blue. Amanda comforted her sister and said, “Good thing you don’t use your hands in soccer.” 

Naeher would later become a goalie, the only position that does use their hands, while her sister became a forward. And according to her bio, “That resulted in the two sisters out in the yard for hours, Amanda taking shots on Alyssa, who stood in front of whatever makeshift goal they’d come up with — usually the garage door or the underside of the stairs, making save after save.”

2. And played all throughout high school and college.

In high school, she was a three-time All-State and three-time FAA All-Conference selection. She was also a Parade All-American, two-time NSCAA Youth All-American, and played basketball. After high school, she became starting goalkeeper for Penn State’s women’s soccer team, where she remained for all four years from 2006 to 2009.

In addition, she was part of international teams, including the U.S. U-20 women’s national soccer team, and played in the 2007 Pan-American Games and 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She won the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper.

3. She went professional.

In 2010, she was drafted to the Boston Breakers, but transferred to Turbine Potsdam in 2011. But in 2013, she officially signed with Boston, winning Goalkeeper of the Year. In 2015, she was traded to the Chicago Red Stars, where she currently remains. Naeher was on the roster for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup as a backup for Hope Solo, but didn’t play. She was also on the roster for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

She essentially took over the goalkeeper role from Solo, who was suspended for six months following comments against Sweden. And she’s learned a lot since then.

Says Naeher, “I’ve learned all the bits and pieces from every goalkeeper — between Hope and Barney and Ashlyn and our coaches. There’s not much that’s actually black and white; everyone has their own style, their own way they play. We’re a team within a team and we are together 100 percent. We all feed off each other and inspire each other.”

RELATED: Who Is Jill Ellis? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Coach — Including Why Hope Solo's Criticizing Her In The Press

4. She took responsibility for the goal made by Spain.

Even though the U.S. still won that game 2-1, Jennifer Hermoso from Spain scored a goal in the 9th minute. Naeher was hard on herself, but her teammates and coach see it otherwise. 

Says Jill Ellis, the USWNT coach, “It’s what lens you look through it because that’s one minute of a 97-minute game. I thought some of the balls she came for were big and brave. She’s had a lot of games under her belt and so I think it’s, ‘Do we say the same thing to a forward when they miss a penalty kick?’ It’s part of the game and so I think, yeah, you want to be clean, you want to be sharp, you want to be error-free, but it’s not dwelling in that moment. It’s looking at all the other positives that there were. We saw one mental thing, but she's lived through it and she’s moved on.”

Teammate Megan Rapinoe echoed Ellis’ comments, adding, “The way the team responded was great. As a team we have to have everyone’s backs like that. There’s going to be times where one of us misses something easy or giveaway or whatever, it’s just part of the game. For [Naeher], yeah, just obviously understand what she did wrong, what she should’ve done better there, but also to leave it with the game. And the most important thing is the team rallied around, had a good performance and we’re on to Paris for the next round...it wasn't a game-changing result."

Luckily, Naeher has recovered from her mistakes and learned.

She says, “I think I just need to make a smarter decision, not play it into a pressure pocket, and probably just better to put it up the field a little bit more and play higher up... It’s not ideal, but there’s still 85 minutes, or 80, to play and you can’t dwell on that moment, you can’t change it. I’ve got full confidence in my team. I knew we were going to get one back, and I think that was the message to myself: ‘Hey, we’re fine, everything is OK.’”

5. She’s unfairly been compared to Hope Solo.

After Solo was suspended, people began making comparisons between Naeher and Solo.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

But Naeher doesn’t let it get to her: “I stay focused on me. And I am trying to be my best version of myself every single day. I compare myself to who I was yesterday and try to be better each day. I don’t compare to anything else. I try to be Alyssa, and that’s all I can control.”

She was also asked about Solo’s comments against coach Ellis: “Obviously (Solo) had an incredible legacy. She was a great player for this team, and she was a great goalkeeper. She represented this team for a very long time at a high level, and she was one of the best goalkeepers in the world for a long time. I have a lot of respect for the career she had.”

6. Her teammates praise her.

Though Naeher is on the quiet side, her teammates want people to know that they shouldn’t let that fool them. Says teammate Becky Sauerbrunn, “She’s got a presence. And yeah, that presence is different from the past goalkeepers of this team but it’s just as powerful and just as strong. In no way is our goalkeeping a weak link. In no way.”

Julie Ertz, another teammate, added, “She’s really good. Great with her feet, great shot stopper. I’m lucky enough to be able to play with her at club and here and to see how much she’s put into it and how prepared she is. That gives us confidence in itself, just knowing how ready she is.”

RELATED: Who Is Megan Rapinoe? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Captain And Forward Competing In The World Cup

Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.