You were born in Canada and grew up playing soccer here, but decided to get American citizenship to play for the U.S. Are you tired of explaining that decision?
> I’ve probably been asked 1,000 times, but it doesn’t get old to me. There are situations in life where you have to do what’s best for you and your family. I graduated from UCLA, I was one of the first people in my family to graduate from college, and then I was able to make a career out of my life here. I don’t regret it whatsoever.
You were very young when you moved.
> I was 14 years old. It was terrible, I’m not gonna lie. I’d call my mom crying every single day. I didn’t have friends, really. I tried to sleep my days away. There were many times where I was like, “I don’t think this is what I wanna do.” My mom promised me it was worth it, just to hold on, college was around the corner. She was right. But it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.
Would you make the same decision today? Canada’s team is much better, and so are developmental programs.
> That’s a really good question. The Canadian team has come a long way for sure. Would I change what I did? Probably not, because I feel like we’re in an amazing situation and U.S. Soccer is an unbelievable federation. Women’s soccer in America is different. The colleges, NCAA and Divison I, you can’t compete with that.
You’ve been criticized a lot for your decision to play for the U.S. You’ve been called a traitor.
> Oh yeah, that stuff doesn’t bother me. I think it’s funny.
The World Cup is less than a year away. Who do you want to meet in the final?
> Canada. For sure.
I was hoping you’d say that. Why?
>I think it would be an amazing game. Having the World Cup in Canada, Canada in the final, in Vancouver. For me it is a fairy tale to play in my hometown in the final against my old country.
Is that how you see Canada, as your old country?
> My dad is from America, my mom is from Canada. I’m lucky to have both. I do consider Vancouver my home because that’s where my mom is.
Back to that World Cup final. Who wins?
> [Laughs.] Obviously I have to go for the USA.
Wrong answer! Last Canadian question—promise. During that friendly versus Canada last summer in Toronto, you scored, then hushed the crowd while you pointed to the American flag on your jersey. Will you do that at the World Cup?
> It was emotional, that game in Toronto. [Leroux has said she was reacting to racist taunts.] That was strictly based off emotion, like all of my celebrations. Hopefully [at the World Cup] we can just play soccer and concentrate on the game.
Both your parents were into baseball. How’d you end up pursuing soccer?
> I was very rambunctious as a child, and crazy and wild, and my mom didn’t know what to do with me so she put me in every single sport. Soccer and baseball stuck. When I was 13 or 14, I started taking soccer more seriously, realizing I wasn’t gonna be the first female in MLB. [Laughs.]
What about soccer got you hooked?
> The feeling of scoring a goal, even when I was four years old. I remember that feeling. I still get it today.
Every time you score a goal, we see your tonsils.
> My team makes fun of me, they’re like, “You should act like you’ve done this before!” I’m like, “I know, I get way too excited!”
What should people know about you that they maybe don’t.
> Hmm… I got expelled in Grade 2! [Laughs.]
> I was in the principal’s office every single day. I had no time to sit in my chair, I was always up and out. They eventually had enough. I switched schools and then tried to go back and they said, “No, you’re no longer allowed to be at this school.”
Who’s the best female player in the world? Christine Sinclair?
> She’s definitely one of the best forwards in the world. I have the utmost respect for her.
What do you do on a day off?
> I take it easy. I go shopping, go to dinner. I’m a big shopper.
What’s your go-to store?
> Aritzia, which is actually Canadian. [Laughs.]
You keep coming back to your old country.
> Exactly, right?
This story originally appeared in Sportsnet magazine. Subscribe here.