Homecomings can be a difficult time. Just ask U.S. forward Sydney Leroux, whose decision as a 9-year-old has made her a polarizing figure. With Winnipeg flooded by American support in Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory over Australia, Leroux wasn’t met with the boos and insults she endured during her last visit.
To say the game billed the “The Rematch”, the first meeting between Canada and the U.S. after their epic London 2012 Olympics semifinal match was a disaster on Canada’s part is an understatement. What occured amongst Canadian fans was a moral failure of the highest regard.
“I’ve got the best people behind me so I’m not going to let it affect me,” Leroux said. “I’ve worked very hard to get to where I am and I hope that people understand that when I come to Canada, that [playing for the U.S.] was the best decision for me and my family to make when I was 9-years-old and I made the decision that I wanted to play.”
The interest sparking narrative of a huge rivalry and dislike between the two nations couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, a competitive nature exists when they face but the same could be said for any of the other U.S. opponents. Any vendetta against Leroux hasn’t originated from the Canadian team. It’s been spewed from the fans.
“One of the bridesmaids for my wedding was Carmelina Moscato, who plays for the Canadian national team,” Leroux said. “It’s not this crazy rivalry, it’s a few people out of millions that end up saying the things that aren’t very nice.”
During the World Cup, Leroux’s process will be the same. She’s just trying to be herself and that means she won’t shy away from social media which she embraces wholeheartedly and doesn’t care who that bothers.
“A lot of people ask, are you going to go on a hiatus and like, stay away from social media? No I’m not going to stop being who I am because some people don’t like that,” Leroux said. “I think the most important part about life in general is to stay true to who you are and that’s what I’m going to do in Canada and I’m going to be Sydney Leroux and if people don’t like it then it’s okay.”
This is the tournament she prepared for after knowing at an early age wanted to play soccer. Leroux’s bond with her mother, Sandi, has made her childhood dreams a reality. Her mother was the foundation that helped Leroux develop a relentless attitude and she admits that without her mom, she wouldn’t be back in Canada representing the U.S. as the team fights for a World Cup.
“In 1999, I was in Canada sitting on the couch with my mom and I turned to her and told her that that’s what I wanted to do,” Leroux said. “I wanted to play for the best team in the world and I ever since I was 9-years-old my mom has pushed me and helped me chase my dreams and to be honest that’s the only reason why I’m sitting here talking to you guys.”