Sydney Rae Leroux was born on 7th May 1990. She is a Canadian-born American professional soccer player and Olympic gold medalist. As a forward, she currently plays for the Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and the United States national team. She played collegiate soccer for the UCLA Bruins and previously played at the semi-professional level for the Vancouver Whitecaps. She made her debut for the Whitecaps at the age of fifteen, becoming the youngest player ever to play for the team.
Leroux was the number one pick by the Atlanta Beat during the 2012 WPS Draft on January 13, 2012. After the WPS suspended operations before the 2012 season, she played for the Seattle Sounders Women during the summer of 2012. She made her professional debut for the Boston Breakers in the NWSL during the league’s inaugural season in 2013.
Leroux was born in Surrey, British Columbia to a Canadian mother, Sandi Leroux, and an American father, Ray Chadwick. Her mother played third base for the Canadian national softball team. Her father was a professional baseball player who pitched briefly for the California Angels in 1986. Coming from a family of baseball players, Sydney played baseball for Whalley Little League from 1994–2004. Leroux was raised primarily by her mother after her parents split when her mother was three months pregnant with Sydney.
During her freshman and sophomore year of high school, Leroux attended Johnston Heights Secondary School in Surrey where she was the leading scorer on the soccer team. Also a track and field athlete, she won Provincials in the 4 × 100 metres relay with her team.
Leroux played three seasons of club soccer with Coquitlam City Wild, helping the team to Provincial Cup Championships in 2003, 2004 and 2005. She helped the team win the under-14 national championship in 2003 after scoring 12 goals in 4 games and a bronze at the under-16 national tournament in 2005. Leroux became the youngest player to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps at the age of 15 and won a championship with Team BC at the Canada Games in 2005.
Leroux has stated that at a very early age, she knew she wanted to play for the United States women’s national soccer team. To pursue her goal, she moved to Scottsdale, Arizona at the age of 15 and attended Horizon High School during her junior and senior years while living with multiple host families. Despite having a challenging time adjusting to life without her family and friends, she helped lead Sereno Soccer Club to state titles in 2007 and 2008. Of her move to the United States, she said, “It was not easy. It was probably one of the most difficult things I ever had to do, move away from everything that I knew and was comfortable with to something that I had no idea about. Not having any family around. Doing it on my own. As a 15-year-old, that’s kind of hard. I had to grow up really fast, But I guess it’s all worth it. Now I have a chance to prove myself, and that’s what I enjoy, and that’s why I did what I did.”
Leroux played collegiate soccer for the UCLA Bruins from 2008 to 2011 under head coach Jillian Ellis. During her freshman season, she was a starting player on the squad for 18 of the 19 games in which she played. She was the sixth-highest scorer on the team with five goals and six assists for a total of 16 points on the season and was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team. During her sophomore year, she led UCLA in scoring with 48 points (23 goals, 2 assists) and was a semi-finalist for the Hermann Trophy. Her 23 goals ranked second in the Pac-10 Conference and tied with teammate Lauren Cheney for a new single-season record at UCLA. Leroux earned Soccer America MVP second team, Second-team All-Pac-10, and 2009 NCAA All-Tournament Team honors the same year. During the First Round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament, she set a new school record for most goals scored in a single match after scoring four during the team’s 7–1 defeat of Boise State University.
As a junior, Leroux ranked fifth in UCLA history for career points (91) as well as fourth in goals (41) and game-winning goals (15). She ranked third in the Pac-10 Conference for goals (13) and second in game-winning goals (6) earning her First-team Soccer America MVP, Third-team NSCAA All-American, First-team NSCAA All-Pacific Region, and First-team All-Pac-10 honors the same year. During the Bruins’ first game of the season, she scored four goals against Cal Poly Pomona helping her team win 7–0. She was subsequently named Pac-10 Player of the Week. Leroux scored the game-winning goal during the second round of the NCAA Tournament helping the Bruins defeat the UCF Knights 2–1 and advance to the third round where they lost to eventual College Cup semi-finalists Stanford Cardinal.
During her final year with the Bruins in 2011, she led the team in scoring for the third straight season with 16 goals and three assists for a total of 35 points. She was named First-team NSCAA All-American, Soccer America’s MVP First Team, and was a semi-finalist for the Hermann Trophy. Her eight game-winning goals ranked first in the Pac-10 Conference. She scored her first hat trick of the season (third in her collegiate career) in 11 minutes during a 6–1 win over the Arizona Sun Devils in October 2011. At the Bruins’ next game against the Colorado Buffalos, Leroux scored another hat trick helping her team win 8–0. She finished her collegiate career ranked fourth in UCLA’s record books for points (126), goals (57), and game-winning goals.
At the age of 15, Leroux played for the Vancouver Whitecaps during the 2005 W-League season becoming the youngest player to ever play for the team. She returned to the Whitecaps for the 2011 season. She ranked second in the league for goals scored with 11 finishing the regular season with 24 points in 11 appearances. After helping the Whitecaps advance to the W-League Championship Final Four with a goal during the team’s 4–3 defeat of Santa Clarita Blue Heat in the Western Conference Final, Leroux was named to the All-Western Conference team. Post-season, she was named 2011 W-League Rookie of the Year.
Leroux was the number one pick by the Atlanta Beat in the 2012 WPS Draft, though the league folded before she had the chance to play with the team. During the summer of 2012, Leroux joined fellow U.S. national team players, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Stephanie Cox, and Megan Rapinoe on the Seattle Sounders Women in the W-League. Sounders Women head coach, Michelle French, said of the signing, “Sydney is the consummate goal scorer with an incredible attacking attitude. She not only shows tireless effort on the offensive side of the ball, but she is very unique in that she prides herself on her defensive recovery and ability to win the ball back. She makes an impact no matter where she plays on the field.”
Due to her national team commitments and preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Leroux made two regular season appearances for the club. She scored two goals and served one assist in her 168 minutes on the pitch. With Leroux and her national team teammates’ presence on the team, the Sounders sold out nine of their ten home matches at Starfire Stadium (capacity: 4,500). The average attendance during league matches was four times higher than the second most attended team in the league.
In 2013, as part of the NWSL Player Allocation, Leroux was one of three national team players along with Heather O’Reilly and Heather Mitts signed to the Boston Breakers for the inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). She scored her first goal of the season in the 91st minute of the Breakers’ season opener against the Washington Spirit tying the game 1–1 in stoppage time. Leroux scored the league’s first ever hat trick during the Breakers’ 4–1 win against the Chicago Red Stars on May 4 and was subsequently named NWSL Player of the Week.
On July 3, she scored another equalizer against the Seattle Reign FC resulting in a 1–1 draw. A few days later on July 6, she scored a brace against the Portland Thorns FC resulting in a 2–0 win for the Breakers. Leroux’s 11 goals on the season tied for second with national teammate Abby Wambach of the Western New York Flash in goals scored, second only to Lauren Holiday of FC Kansas City with 12. The Breakers finished the 2013 season fifth in the league with an 8–6–8 record.
On November 18, 2013, it was announced that Leroux was traded to the Seattle Reign FC for the 2014 NWSL season in exchange for two 2015 draft picks, Kristie Mewis, and Michelle Betos. Of the signing, Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey said, “Sydney Leroux is one of the world’s best forwards. She is a young, extraordinary talent with unlimited upside. Sydney will be the consistent goal-scoring threat that we struggled to find last season.”
By virtue of her parents’ nationalities, Leroux was eligible to represent either Canada or the United States. At the age of 14, she was a member of Canada’s team that played in the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Thailand, where she was the youngest player in the tournament. She served as captain of Canada’s U-15 team that traveled to Germany in 2005.
Leroux received clearance from FIFA to change associations to the United States in 2008 and went on to help the under-20 national team win the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Santiago, Chile after scoring in the first half of the final against North Korea. Leroux represented the United States at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and ended her under-20 career as the country’s all-time leading scorer in Under-20 Women’s World Cup play with 10 goals. At the under-20 level, she is among the country’s most capped players with 36 games and is the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. with 30 goals. In 2011, she was named the 2011 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year, playing for both the senior and under-23 national teams.
After representing the United States at the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament as a member of the United States senior national team, Leroux became a permanent U.S. player according to FIFA guidelines. In her second cap for the senior side, Leroux scored five goals in a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying match between the U.S. and Guatemala; the final score of the match was 13–0. Leroux’s performance tied a record for goals scored in a single match by one player in a CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and tied the single-game record for the national team, tying teammate Amy Rodriguez, who had equaled and set the records (respectively) just two days prior in a 14–0 victory over the Dominican Republic.
In 2012, Leroux set a new team scoring record as a reserve on the team with 14 goals scored off the bench in one year. The previous record of nine goals was set by Debbie Keller in 1998. During the 2012 Algarve Cup, Leroux scored the team’s fifth goal in the 91st minute of the U.S.’ first group stage match against Denmark, in which the U.S. won 5–0. During the team’s second group stage match, she scored the game-winning goal against Norway in the 81st minute. After losing to Japan in the third group stage match, the team defeated Sweden 4–0 to clinch third place at the tournament.
Leroux was the youngest player and a goal-scoring member of the Olympic gold medal-winning team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She scored the second goal against New Zealand during the quarter final match of the tournament helping the U.S. win 2–0.
During the squad’s second group stage match at the 2013 Algarve Cup, Leroux opened up scoring for the U.S. when she netted a goal in the 13th minute. Her goal was followed by four others from her teammates resulting in a 5–0 win over China. The U.S. would go on to win the tournament after a 2–0 defeat of Germany in the final. The controversy made headlines around the world.
While playing in a sold-out friendly match against Canada at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario in June 2013, Leroux was booed by Canadian fans throughout the match. After scoring during stoppage time to bring the score to 3–0 in favor of the U.S., Leroux celebrated her goal by hushing the crowd and pointing to the U.S. emblem on her jersey which further inflamed many fans in the crowd. After the game, she stated via Twitter, “When you chant racial slurs, taunt me and talk about my family don’t be mad when I shush you and show pride in what I represent. .america.” The U.S. Soccer Federation announced that U.S. Soccer said Leroux had “endured abuse both verbally and in social media” since switching to the U.S. national soccer team in 2008, however Leroux later clarified that no such incidents took place at BMO field. “My tweet from this morning wasn’t in response to anything from yesterday’s match at BMO Field,” the statement read. “In fact, the atmosphere at the stadium was a positive step forward for women’s soccer. Unfortunately, the type of abuse I have received in the past and via social media for my decision to play for the United States is a step backwards. That is what prompted my response in the heat of the moment.”During a friendly against Mexico in September 2013, Leroux scored a hat trick in nine minutes helping the U.S. win 7–0.
- FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (1): 2008
- Four Nations Tournament (1): 2011
- Algarve Cup (1): 2013
- Olympic Gold Medal (1): 2012
- FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Golden Ball (1): 2008
- FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Golden Shoe (1): 2008
- NCAA All-American First-Team (1): 2011
- Pac-10 Conference First-Team (2): 2010, 2011
- U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year (1): 2011
- NWSL Player of the Week (1): 2013
Leroux holds dual citizenship in Canada and the United States. Her nickname is “Syd the Kid”. Her chihuahua, “Boss Leroux”, has thousands of Twitter followers and is often featured in the media along with Sydney. Leroux has appeared in several advertisements and promotional pieces for Nike.
Leroux was the focus of an ESPN feature entitled Living Her Dream which profiled her evolution as an international soccer player. She was a guest on Canada’s Breakfast Television in August 2012 following the 2012 Olympics. In October 2013, she was interviewed by Grete Eliassen for an EspnW short feature, Q&A With Sydney Leroux. The same month, she was profiled in Fox Soccer Exclusive: Sydney Leroux for Fox Soccer Channel.
Leroux was one of 21 professional athletes featured in ESPN’s The Body Issue in 2013. She appeared semi-nude on one of eight covers for the magazine. Of the experience she said, “I think a lot of females struggle with the way they look, and I wanted to show that everyone’s body is different. I think it’s a big deal to be an athlete and feel confident in your body and show it off. I’m not going to say I’ve never struggled with how I look, but I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m happy with who I am.”