This series was created to put a focus on the legends of the women’s game. We will be looking at the people that consistently come up in conversations about the “Greatest of All Time”, and why we categorize them as such. Additionally, we’ll be looking at the impact they’ve made on the game since retiring from professional play.
For every sports fan, there are the players that catch your eye; whether by their actions on the field or off of it, they do something that makes you think, “Wow, they’re awesome. I should follow them and see what they do next!” Up until I started the research for this profile, Aly Wagner wasn’t one of those players for me. She came through the USWNT while my access was still limited, watching only big tournaments if I could convince my parents to pay for cable. In a lot of ways, I’m still catching up on what happened in between those big moments.
As it turns out, Aly Wagner was there for a lot of the in-between moments. Playing for the USWNT from 2000 to 2010, she had an impressive tenure as a center midfielder. She overcame injuries, scored big goals, played for clubs in both the WUSA and the WPS, and had an extremely impressive soccer mind by all accounts. After retiring from the game she had kids (she should win an award just for surviving the parenting of triplet boys) and now she has now worked her way into a very tight community of soccer commentators.
Aly Wagner grew up San Jose, California. This is obviously the most important thing about her to me as that is where I spent a large part of my childhood, and also where I developed my love for soccer. Gotta love a hometown girl. She won awards for her club play and went on to Santa Clara University, where she led them to the NCAA championship over North Carolina, scoring the only goal in the final. She also won the 2002 Hermann Trophy while in school. She started getting call ups to National Team camps and playing in friendlies while still in school, but it wasn’t until 2003 that she was named to a big tournament roster, playing in the 2003 World cup as well as the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. In 2008, she was playing through a recent surgery to fix a double hernia, which made her ability to maintain her place on the roster that much more admirable. Her last on-field accomplishments were with the WPS team the Los Angeles Sol, where she played until 2010 when she retired.
Once she retired, she didn’t slow down. Besides the aforementioned triplet boys, and a little girl, she decided that she wanted to make a run at sports journalism. Paving the way were the likes of Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain, but the road was still long. She started off calling Pac 12 matches, a job she still does, even though it led to bigger things. She was on the Fox Sports team for a number of large events, most notably the 2015 Women’s World Cup and COPA TONIGHT. During the COPA AMERICA, she sat alongside Alexi Lalas and Fernando Fiore, who aren’t known for their tendency to let others speak. Nevertheless, she made an impression, using her few opportunities to speak to great advantage (check out ExcelleSports’ awesome article about her to get more information about that).
Why We Like Listening to Her
Aly Wagner has become a regular presence in Fox Soccer broadcasting team, providing analysis and the perspective of an incredibly intelligent player. She works the USWNT matches that FOX carries, and between that and her record in big tournaments she is starting to make a name for herself. Her Twitter account shows a person who is willing to look at both sides of the issue and really consider it before giving an opinion.
As she continues to get called on for USWNT matches and big tournaments, I expect Aly Wagner’s off-field star to rise even more. She has enormous potential to make a mark on the game, and how it is talked about on both the men’s and women’s side. I may have overlooked her as an important voice in soccer journalism before, but I definitely will not do so now. She has caught my attention, and I am confident when I say, “Wow, she’s awesome. I should follow her and see what she does next!”