City Paper is not for tourists
Before the Washington Spirit season began in April, a reporter asked Rose Lavelle during the team’s media day how she juggles her time between U.S. national team duties and playing for the Spirit. The reporter wanted to know: Was there anything she gave up while maintaining a busy schedule? Did she watch less TV? Did she see her friends less? What other sacrifices did she have to make?
Sitting next to her coach, Richie Burke, and Spirit teammates, Andi Sullivan, Mallory Pugh, Chloe Logarzo, and Amy Harrison, Lavelle responded with a laugh.
“Honestly, I think it’s a fun life to live,” she said. “There’s a good balance of everything. I personally think I don’t really like to do much anyway. I want to lay in my bed. When I get the time to, it’s really fun and great. I can’t complain.”
“I like my life,” she later added to City Paper. “I don’t ever feel like too pulled in one direction or overloaded by soccer. When you’re doing it at this level, it’s because you love it. So I just try to find joy in everything that’s based around this career.”
Lavelle is likely living her best life now. The 24-year-old midfielder scored three times in the Women’s World Cup in France, including a dazzling left foot strike in the championship match against the Netherlands that provided the final goal in her team’s 2-0 victory. Lavelle received the Bronze Ball, given to the third best player in the World Cup, for her efforts.
Megan Rapinoe, with her meme-ready celebrations, bright pink-purple hair, and unabashed confidence was the undisputed leader of the team, but Lavelle found opportunities to steal the show. She started nearly every game, and provided one of the most electrifying moments of the World Cup when she dribbled the ball between the legs of an English defender—a slick, highlight reel move known as a “nutmeg.” The video of it posted by Fox Sports on Twitter has been viewed nearly half a million times.
Publications from across the world have focused on Lavelle’s exploits.
Former national team player Heather Mitts tells the Cincinnati Enquirerthat Lavelle is “a rock star now.”
“She’s so creative,” says Emily Olsen, who covers D.C. United and the Spirit for ProSoccerUSA. “If you watch her play, you kinda can see she sees what’s about to happen before it happens. She can make a move and drive the play wide to create space or crash in when she needs to. She has creativity and just this vision that a lot of players don’t have.”
And Lavelle isn’t even the most hyped soccer star in her own apartment. She is roommates with Spirit teammates Pugh and Sullivan in Rockville. Pugh, 21, has received the bulk of the national media attention since she turned pro after high school in Colorado. The two are best friends and both recently told City Paper that they shed a few tears watching each other play at the World Cup.
“Mal is one of my best friends so it’s been fun to be able to experience this with her,” Lavelle said. “It’s been awesome to be able to continue to build our relationship when we’re away from this environment on and off the field, so we’re both excited to be able to have this opportunity.”
That Lavelle is now becoming a household soccer name is not surprising to those who have followed the sport. Olsen predicts that Lavelle’s profile will grow similarly to how Alex Morgan‘s did after the 2011 World Cup.
“The whole interesting thing about the World Cup, whether it’s men’s or women’s, is that it’s a chance for people who don’t follow soccer to get excited about it,” says Olsen. “For those people, Rose Lavelle’s performance is surprising. For people covering the sport the past two years, it’s been pretty much expected in the soccer bubble, because she’s been performing so well at the senior level. But … this has been a coming out party for the rest of the world.”
Four years ago, Lavelle watched the World Cup on TV while eating pizza, according to the Post‘s Steven Goff. She told Goff that she didn’t feel she was “good enough” to be on the U.S. roster. And with so many personalities in the U.S. system, the spotlight has seldom been on Lavelle. When asked in April if she saw herself as one of the faces of the rebuilding Spirit team, Lavellewaved off the suggestion.
“No, I don’t think I ever view myself as that, because there are so many other players and staff members who put so much work into it,” she told City Paper.
Lavelle’s duties with the U.S. team and a nagging hamstring injury has limited her appearance for the Spirit to just one match this season. But all eyes will be on her when she returns for the team’s next home game against the Houston Dash at the Maryland SoccerPlex on July 20.
“If she can stay healthy, I think it’s an absolutely perfect storm for her to shine,” Olsen says.