Sure, Sydney Leroux was born in Canada — British Columbia, to be exact — but the forward decided long ago that she would play soccer for the United States if given the opportunity.
In order to try to make her dream come true, Sydney Leroux moved to the United States all by herself in order to try to garner attention from U.S. Soccer coaches. At the time, Leroux was only 15, and with dual citizenship in hand, she moved to Arizona to make her soccer career happen.
It wasn’t a split-second decision. In fact, in an interview with Team USA, Leroux said that she’d made the decision to play for Team USA instead of Team Canada years before it even happened.
“I was in Canada, sitting on the couch with my mom and I turned to her and told her that that’s what I wanted to do, that I wanted to play on the best team in the world. And I was 9 years old, and ever since I was 9 years old my mom has kind of pushed me, and helped me chase these dreams.”
Perhaps it helped that Leroux parents were both elite-level athletes themselves. Sydney’s mother, Sandi Leroux, was a third baseman for the Canadian National Softball team, and her father, Ray Chadwick, pitched for the California Angels. It’s from her father that Leroux received her American citizenship.
Before moving to the United States, Leroux played on the Canadian U-19 team, where at 14 she was a member of the 2004 World Championship squad in Thailand.
It was after that world championship tournament that Leroux moved to Arizona.
It didn’t take long for Leroux to join the U.S. U-20 team, and by the time she was 21, Leroux had become a permanent member of the women’s senior soccer team.
Choosing to play for the United States instead of Canada hasn’t always come easy for Sydney Leroux, though. According to Team USA, Leroux has been called “Judas” and “traitor” by Canadian soccer fans. Since joining the senior team in 2011, Leroux has taken heat across social media for her decision to leave Canada and pursue a soccer career in the United States.
That’s why, heading into the first 2015 World Cup game on Monday, Leroux wasn’t sure what to expect. She spoke about the haters she’s faced in the past, and she said that she was hoping for some negative energy from her home-country crowd.
“I feel like the worst you can do is boo me and try to make me feel bad,” Leroux said while speaking to the media. “Because that just makes me hungrier.”
Despite expectations of negativity, fans seemed to come out in droves on Monday night to support Sydney Leroux — at least on Twitter, where most of the reaction to Leroux’s play was positive.
— Saboor Khan (@saboortweets) June 9, 2015
In game one of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Sydney Leroux helped Team USA defeat Australia 3-1.
[Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images]