The defender discusses her experiences with the U.S., overcoming injury and being a young leader in one of the NWSL’s most regular play-off teams
It was September 2017 and Tierna Davidson was in camp with the U.S. women’s national team for the first time. The 18-year-old was part of a roster that included names like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Becky Sauerbrunn, Tobin Heath – and Kelley O’Hara wasn’t about to let her stand there in awe. ‘Yell at me,’ the World Cup winner and Olympic gold medallist said to Davidson, playing on the left of the teenager in a back four. ‘I need to hear you communicate.’
“That was just a bit of a wake-up moment because I was like, ‘I don’t want to tell you what to do because of course you know what to do. You are going to know what to do much better than I know what to do’,” Davidson tells GOAL, reflecting on that first USWNT experience. “But for her to give me that permission almost and tell me, ‘No. Do it’, it’s very helpful.
“I was definitely nervous. I think everybody experiences this when they go into the camp for the first time, but stepping onto the field with players that you’ve watched on TV for so long, that have been your role models for so long, was a bit surreal. You feel like, ‘Am I supposed to be here? Am I meant to be here? Have I been dropped off at the wrong place?’ But really, it was surprisingly welcoming.”
Less than two years later, Davidson would be a World Cup winner herself and a No.1 draft pick, chosen first overall by the Chicago Red Stars in 2019. She became a key player for club right away and, immediately after becoming a world champion, helped it to reach the NWSL Championship game in her rookie season.
Today then, despite still being only 24 years old, she is an experienced head given what she has seen and done already. The defender is only one appearance away from hitting a half-century of caps for her country and she’s a massive leader in a very young Red Stars’ dressing room.
Some of the experiences that have resulted in that status have been incredibly positive, such as the World Cup triumph in France. Others have been rather the opposite, like the ACL tear she suffered last year. All of them, though, have been important in shaping Davidson into a player that should not only have a big impact at this summer’s Women’s World Cup, but many more to come…