Sam Kerr does not lack ability or confidence.
The Australian forward got to show off all three when bidding farewell to Chicago Red Stars reporters after her final home match with the NWSL team before departing for the Australian national team and the World Cup. She scored two goals and added an assist in that match, but the most memorable moment may have been what she said on her way out.
“See ya after the World Cup, with a trophy,” Kerr said with a laugh.
It was a joke, but she also meant it. And who’s to doubt Kerr?
Australia hasn’t made it past the quarterfinal round at any World Cup (or an Olympics for that matter), but there is reason for Kerr’s optimism. The Matildas entered the World Cup ranked sixth in the world and the 23-woman roster has more than 1,200 international caps between them. Since 2017, the Matildas have wins against the U.S., Brazil, Japan and reigning European champions Netherlands.
Despite an opening match setback, there’s still belief Australia can work its way out of the group stage.
Kerr is climbing up Australia’s all-time goal-scoring list, entering the Cup with 31 in 76 caps and she’s still only 25. She is building a resume that has placed her among the best strikers in the world. Kerr has won the last two scoring titles in both the NWSL and in the W-League in her home country.
Kerr is headed to her third World Cup, but this is her first one in her prime. Can she take it to another gear this summer in France?
Kerr showed confidence when talking about Australia’s chances in France, but is typically modest about her own game. She will criticize herself for chances she doesn’t convert or talk about trying to improve on her playmaking ability.
After scoring two goals in her final NWSL home match before leaving for World Cup preparation, Kerr said she was glad to score because she was worried she was dipping in form. Apparently, for her, dipping in form means not scoring in two straight games (after scoring in each of the previous two). Kerr scored a brace at Houston the next week and left the Red Stars with six goals and an assist in six matches.
“She’s going to miss more chances than other people probably, but she creates chances that other people don’t create,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said. “I think that’s what we’ve tried to instill in her is, don’t get caught up so much with the ones you miss because if we put three passes together, play you through and then you miss, maybe, but if we kick a ball and you outrun everybody 60 yards to go get it, you’ve created it, so if you make it, you make it, you miss it, you miss it. I think the more that she has that mentality and just keeps going, the more dangerous she’s going to be.”
The NWSL and the W-League know very well what Kerr can do. Now Kerr has to show it on the sport’s biggest stage.
“I wouldn’t want to play against her in France,” Dames said.
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