Just one year removed from helping the U.S. Women’s National Team win its fourth World Cup, Tierna Davidson may be the most promising young player in the USWNT pipeline.
That ability was on display on the world’s biggest stage last summer when Davidson started against Chile in the group stage. Davidson, the designated corner kick taker for the match, served two crosses into the box that found the head of Julie Ertz and Carli Lloyd to help lead the Stars and Stripes to a 3-0 win.
She didn’t make another appearance in the World Cup campaign as Crystal Dunn reclaimed her starting role, but Davidson turned heads with her performance.
“I mean, those balls she played in – she’s got one of the sweetest left foots I’ve ever seen,” former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis said at the time. “I think her distribution on the ball – she can open up a game.”
While there is no shortage of competition for playing time in the national team setup with established players like Casey Short, Crystal Dunn, and Abby Dahlkemper all vying for minutes, anyone who followed Davidson’s career would not be surprised by her breakout performance against Chile.
Her fast track to international glory started at Sacred Heart Preparatory school in Atherton, California, the same school fellow USWNT center back Dahlkemper attended when she was in high school. She was soon recruited to play for Stanford University where Davidson won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and helped lead the Cardinals to a national title in her sophomore year.
After a fractured ankle injury sidelined her for the majority of her junior season, Davidson skipped her senior year and declared for the 2019 National Women’s Soccer League draft. She joined distinguished company such as Andi Sullivan, Rose Lavelle, Emily Sonnett, Morgan Gautrat, and Dunn when she was selected number one overall by the Chicago Red Stars.
Davidson is well known for her technical ability and her versatility. A natural centerback, Davidson is equally capable of playing left back. She has also spent time in her career playing the number 6 role which typically signifies the defensive midfielder position.
Although Davidson cares greatly about her time in the classroom – she holds a deep appreciation for astronomy and majored in Management Science and Engineering – she recognized the time was right to take her career to the next level by entering the draft.
“Obviously there’s room to grow in every part of my game and I think that just elevating my game to the next level with the elite competition of the NWSL was the best way to go for me,” Davidson said in a conference call with reporters of her decision to leave Stanford early.
Davidson’s decision paid off quickly, as she was awarded the U.S. Soccer Young Player of the Year award in 2018 after starting 12 games for the red, white, and blue. Davidson was the first player since the legendary Julie Foudy to play all 90 minutes in each of her first five caps, and she also played every minute of the SheBelieves Cup that year.
Her trophy cabinet, impressive as it is already, still has room to become stocked with more honors for club and country. Davidson has been unable to help the Red Stars win a championship yet, as she was injured for the 2019 NWSL final and the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup final. Her presence on the backline was sorely missed for both matches.
She will surely have more World Cup victories in mind, but there is little doubt Davidson will have her sights set on a long, illustrious career for her country.
Is she up to the task? Veteran teammate Becky Sauerbrunn, a leader of the USWNT’s defense, believes the Red Stars defender is supremely equipped to handle the spotlight should Sauerbrunn be asked to pass the torch to Davidson.
“She’s got years and years and years on this team, and she’s going to be the best defender in the world, no doubt,” Sauerbrunn said of Davidson.