At 20 years old, Tierna Davidson is the youngest player on the USA’s 2019 World Cup team. A 5’10 center back with a playmaker’s mentality, Davidson glides across the field with a preternatural calm and understanding of the game. After winning the national championship with Stanford in 2017, Davidson left college one year early and became the first-round draft pick for the Chicago Red Stars. In 2018, she was playing the full 90 minutes for the U.S. National Team until she got sidelined by an ankle injury. Having returned to form, the versatile defender looks to be a stout solution along the U.S. backline at center or outside back.
Davidson lived a 10-minute bike ride away from Stanford. She grew up watching Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press and was one of the many kids clamoring for post-game autographs along the sideline. “I’d wear my signed shirt to school and to the games, and then it was like, 'Am I brave enough go up to the fence and get their signature AGAIN''” recalls Davidson.
In spite of her close proximity to the school, she never thought she’d be good enough to go there. From U-14 to U-17, she wasn’t getting invited to U.S. Youth National Team camps or receiving much attention from coaches. "Discovering Stanford was interested came as a real surprise," says Davidson.
And when it was her turn to wear the Stanford jersey, she made sure to pay a lot of attention to the young girls. “Because I know how much it meant to me.”
Not thinking she was good enough for a Stanford-caliber soccer program, Davidson was initially more focused on schools with aerospace majors: Army, Cal Tech, Navy. Ever since she was a kid, she’d wanted to be an astronaut—she had posters in her rooms of NASA aircraft and she’d watched all the space shuttle launches. Her favorite place to go as a kid was the aviation museum, where she’d climb into the cockpits and press all the buttons. Tierna collected the maps that her aunt—a pilot at Boeing—would bring her, and she begged her parents to let her get her pilot’s license.
But as her soccer career surged forward, her astronaut dream took a back seat to a new dream: playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
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