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Who is the Highest Paid NWSL Player?

Sophia Smith has officially become the highest-paid NWSL player annually after signing a two-year, $2.5 million extension contract with the Portland Thorns. The deal will see her stay with the Thorns through 2025 with an option to extend for the 2026 season.

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Being the highest-paid player often indicates that a player is recognized for their exceptional talent, skills, and contributions to their team and the league as a whole. It's a form of acknowledgment for their hard work, dedication, and performance on the field.

Smith is a talented American soccer player noted for her achievements in women's soccer. She was born on August 10, 2000, in Windsor, Colorado, where she started playing soccer at an early age and rapidly became recognized for her skill set. 

Smith played youth soccer with the Real Colorado Club and was a member of the United States Soccer Development Academy. She committed to Stanford University's college soccer program and made an immediate impact as a forward in 2018. Smith played an important role in the Cardinal’s success during her freshman year, and the following season she helped Stanford win the 2019 NCAA College Cup final championship.

Courtesy of SoccerWire

In 2020, Smith elected to turn down her remaining two years of college eligibility and enter the NWSL College Draft. She was drafted first overall by the Portland Thorns FC, making her one of the league's most anticipated newcomers. Smith made her professional debut with the Thorns in the NWSL Challenge Cup in 2020. From then on, she rapidly displayed her brilliance and versatility on the field, receiving praise from both fans and coaches. 

Smith has also competed for the United States at several levels, including the U-20 and U-23 teams. She has been recognized as a promising talent for the USWNT, with the ability to make an immediate impact at the highest level of play.

Courtesy of The Today Show

The establishment of professional leagues and teams dedicated to women's sports provides female athletes with more opportunities to compete at a high level and earn competitive salaries. Women's soccer players, especially those in leagues like the NWSL and internationally, are frequently paid much less than men's players. The expanding popularity, increased investment, and support for gender equality in sports have led to improved pay for female athletes depending on their playing ability and market worth. 

Becoming the highest-paid athlete in any sports league involves a combination of extraordinary talent, devotion, smart career decisions, and a little luck. Smith's journey is defined by her incredible talent, determination, and passion for the game. At 23-years-old, she’s still a rising talent in women's soccer, both domestically in the NWSL and on the international stage with the USWNT. 

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Edited by: Emma Habel

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