U.S. Women's National Team striker Sophia Smith kicked off the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in New Zealand and Australia by scoring a brace in her first-ever World Cup match, a 3-0 win over Vietnam.
Smith has been labeled the next torch carrier for women's soccer in America, and for good reason. She's just 22, has won a NCAA national championship, was the first overall pick in the National Women's Soccer League and won league MVP honors last year while playing for the Portland Thorns FC.
But before Smith was scoring goals on soccer's biggest stage, she met her NFL rookie boyfriend, Michael Wilson, back when they were college students at Stanford.
Sophia Smith's Boyfriend is NFL Wide Receiver Michael Wilson
Smith and Wilson met while attending Stanford University in California in January 2019. By February 2019, the couple had become Instagram-official.
New Zealand, which is co-hosting the WWC for the first time with Australia, holds a special place in Wilson's heart. Wilson's mother was born in New Zealand, and his aunt played for the New Zealand women's national football team.
Two different types of football, but still only one love.
As a freshman at Stanford, Wilson was a standout wide receiver, appearing in all 13 games of his freshman campaign. His stock rose even higher as a sophomore when he became a starter and scored five touchdowns.
But adversity struck his junior year, when Wilson suffered a season-ending foot injury that carried over into his senior year. What's worse, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, putting Wilson's return to full playing time even further on hold. The wide receiver was granted an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic but suffered another season-ender after four games.
All that was left for Wilson after that was to rehab his injuries and prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft.
A Year of Milestones for Sophia and Michael
The couple celebrated their fourth anniversary in January; Wilson was selected 94th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft in April; and Smith was named to her first-ever World Cup roster in June.
Talk about a power couple.
The couple put their love to the test by taking on the challenges of a long-distance relationship when Smith left Stanford to go No. 1 overall in the 2020 NWSL draft to the Portland Thorns FC. She has been the face of the National Women's Soccer League ever since.
As the soccer player's stock rose, injury troubles began for the football player — an unbelievably trying time for the young athletes taking their relationship to the next level. But their love has persevered — unsurprising for two dominant competitors who make a living off perseverance — as evidenced by this adorable video below.
Michael Wrote Sophia the Sweetest World Cup Send-Off Letter
Wilson tapped into his inner Bard for this one.
I'll let the man speak for himself — and Smith's shining smile at the end of the video speaks for itself.
Check it out below.
"Dear Sophia, I can't articulate how proud I am of you for the person you have become. You are the most special person I have ever encountered in my entire life. It's insane to see how much you've grown since we met at 18 years old at Stanford. You've stayed consistent and true to yourself throughout the highs and lows of life.
"As you begin your World Cup journey, I want to remind you that you have every single tool and trait to succeed and dominate soccer's biggest stage. You have the making of a generational athlete and the qualities to become one of the best to ever do something. You are quite literally a one-of-one type of person, and it's been a privilege to witness your greatness over the last five years. No one deserves this more than you.
"You were born for this moment, and I'm excited for the entire world to see who you are and the grace with which you succeed. You're a champion and MVP in college, a champion and MVP in the NWSL. Let history continue to repeat itself - a World Cup champion and MVP. I love you, Michael."
Sophia Smith is Just Getting Started
Smith is a generational talent for American soccer, and many fans expect to see her representing the stars and stripes for years to come. At only 22 years old, Smith is one of the most exciting U.S. soccer prospects in recent memory.
She practically scores at will as a forward capable of playing on the right side, left side or center — pick your poison. Her goal-scoring instincts, combined with her clever footwork and quick bursts of speed, make her an unbelievably complementary offensive weapon to U.S. strikers Alex Morgan and Trinity Rodman.
Smith has already scored two goals, in her first World Cup match against Vietnam, but she's far from done. Expect to see this rising star be in the running for World Cup MVP, Golden Boot, and Champion by the end of August.
Oh yeah, it's worth mentioning — Smith isn't the only USWNT star with a thing for NFL players. USWNT stalwart defender Julie Ertz has been married to Zach Ertz since 2017. Even more coincidental: The Ertzes also met at Stanford University.
The year 2023 has been amazing for Smith and Wilson. But the best is still yet to come.
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