“Every up and down and every decision in my life led me to exactly where I'm supposed to be. I don't know if I would say there's one defining moment because there have been so many little defining moments and they've all added up and led me to this point.”
World Cup winner and shining light for the Stars and Stripes, midfield magician Rose Lavelle talks us through the key moments that shaped her incredible career...
First footballing memory
I started playing when I was five. My older sister had started playing soccer. I just did whatever she did - I just loved to copy her!
My family really knew nothing about soccer until we started playing. Now, they're huge soccer fans obviously... but it definitely was not something that ran in the family.
I played for a little YMCA team behind this church near my house.
It was a bit like amoeba soccer - just moving around and chasing the ball!
Then, my first 'select' soccer team, where you have to try out - it's not just a recreational team - was the Golden Eagles.
I joined my first professional team when I was 21. It was the Boston Breakers. They ended up folding the next year but I lived in Boston where Sam Mewis is from!
It was just a really easy little poke in right on the line!
I remember I was hiding behind my friend because I didn't want anyone to see me smiling - but I was so excited!
That's so funny that I can still remember it!
Idols and inspirations
It's so cliché but I was obsessed with the United States Women's National Team.
I was obsessed with Mia Hamm... I think I did every school project on her!
I wouldn't say I ever modelled my game on a specific person. I'd watch soccer and I'd see somebody do something and I'd be like: "Oh, I want to do that."
I feel like I was just constantly taking little bits from a ton of different people's games, which I guess is what we all do when we watch.
One of the things I always say is that I think back to my nine-year-old self and if she knew that now those players know who she is and watch her games, she’d think it’s so cool.
I'm 25 and I still think it's cool!
The college pathway
There's so much opportunity to play in college in America. There's divisions one through three and then there's NAIA (the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and scholarships.
Anyone can play at a University if they want to. It was a very fun experience and some of the best years of my life.
In High School, you get recruited. You would play with your Club team and college coaches would come and scout you and then, you'd email them your schedule and they'd come and watch. Then, you'd talk to them on the phone and go on visits and then pick whatever best suits.
Sports and studies
I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied Sociology alongside playing soccer.
The Universities do a really good job of providing students with a lot of resources and support so you're able to juggle the two.
Both were important to me and I think when you have like two things that are important to you, it's easy to be able to find the balance and find the time to do both.
I definitely still would say that soccer was my top priority but I also knew that I wasn't just going to go to school just to play soccer. I wanted to go to school to get a degree and I still think getting my college degree is one of my proudest accomplishments.
Realising the dream
This sounds crazy - like, how could I possibly know at that age? - but honestly, in Third Grade, I knew I wanted to be on the US National Team.
I remember watching one of their games live and thinking: "Oh my gosh, I have got to be in their shoes one day!"
From a young age, I knew it was something I loved and something I wanted to do for as long as I could. It's always been my number one priority and something that's always brought me the most joy.
That's probably why it's stayed my number one priority - because it makes me happy.
First senior game
We played FCKC (FC Kansas City), who were coached at the time by Vlatko Andonovski (who now coaches the National Team).
We played away on Easter Weekend and I remember that because a fan gave me an Easter basket filled with eggs!
We lost 2-0 and I remember being really angry... but despite the result, it was a good entry into the league and into professional sports!
First senior goal
My first professional goal was against Seattle Reign and we won 3-0.
I think it was with my right foot! It was a little slotted ball into the box and I guess I just finished it!
In college, we won 'The Big Ten' Conference.
We'd won the Big Ten Tournament in my Sophomore Year and if you finished in the top eight, then you got to play in the tournament.
So, after the season - in my Junior Year - we played in the Big Ten Conference and we won that too.
So I won both of those tournaments at one point in my college career! It was so much fun.
First 'big' move
I guess my first big move would have been High School to College.
It was about a seven-hour drive, which I know in England is outrageous, but in America it's doable and not too far from home because the flight is only an hour.
Once I had experienced that, then all the other moves were easier because I'd been away from home and on my own before.
My next biggest one would definitely be moving to City because it's the first time I've lived somewhere that isn't an easy one or two-hour flight home - I'm a whole ocean away!
First USWNT call-up
It was my Senior Year of High School. I was 17 and I got called in to an Under-18s camp.
I did well and hoped to be invited back to the eighteens but they invited me to be part of the U20s during their World Cup cycle!
I remember thinking: 'Have they sent this email to the wrong person?!' and I told my mom she wasn't allowed to tell anybody until it was confirmed that it was meant for me!
My first senior call-up was after the team won the 2015 World Cup. They did a ten-game victory tour. I was there for their last couple of games and I was so nervous!
My first camp was actually Abby Wambach's camp, which was really cool to be a part of. That was really memorable.
It was against England in New York in March 2017 - and it was really cold!
We were playing at the Red Bull Arena and it was like 20 degrees! In Celsius, it would have to be in the negatives.
We lost 1-0 - Ellen White scored for England! - and I remember that for the first ten minutes, I was so nervous, I gave every single ball away!
Once I found my feet, I did a little better but it wasn't the best start!
First USWNT goal
It was versus Russia in Houston, Texas and we won the game 5-1.
I got a ball played to me down the left side. It was served up to me very well and put me on a breakaway and I just placed it.
First senior international trophy
I guess it would have been the World Cup qualifiers in 2018.
We played Canada in the Final (so I played against Janine Beckie!)
We won 1-0 in Dallas, Texas.
Winning the World Cup
It was the most amazing experience. A lot of hard work had gone into it. We had started camp early in May and by the time it finished, it was early July!
We were away from home for two months, which was demanding - both physically and mentally - but because we were all together for so long, we got ever closer.
It was a good experience - very stressful but obviously, very rewarding at the same time.
Scoring in the Final
That goal was the most memorable moment... I felt so relieved after!
That was the first game we hadn't scored in the first ten minutes so it was a little different. Then Megan Rapinoe scored the penalty kick and I feel like we were knocking on the door the whole game.
We knew once we scored the first goal, we just needed to buckle down but even then, the Netherlands had some moments in transition. Even though we had control, they could have capitalised.
We scored the second and I was so relieved because it was the insurance goal. They hadn't given us much space but when Sam Mewis played me the ball, I saw some space and hit a shot at the top of the box - and thankfully, it went in!
There was 20 minutes to play and we knew that if we just buckled down and defended, we could control the game and go on to win.
It finished 2-0 and it was wild. The whistle blew and it was just this relief.
The whole time, I was on a high. When the tournament ended and we’d accomplished what we’d set out to accomplish, you think: ‘Oh my God, we did it!’
Then, once you get the medal and you’re celebrating, it finally hits you. It was fun!
I knew at some point I wanted to play overseas because I wanted to experience like a different style of play, a different environment and be pushed out of my comfort zone - both with playing and living in a new country.
I felt like it was something that was going to really help me grow as a player and as a person.
I want to be pushed out of my comfort zone and it's definitely doing that. It's challenging and uncomfortable at times but it's so good. The people are amazing, the girls are great and it just makes the experience so much better.
First City goal
I scored my first goal for City in the Continental Cup against Everton. It was good and awesome to get a win.
Alex Greenwood played a really good ball in and I went near post. I don't know how it went in - I feel like it banged my thigh seven times! - but a goal is a goal!
First trophy with City
Oh, that was fun! The FA Cup is such a huge deal and it was so cool to be part of - and to play at Wembley Stadium.
Winning a trophy so early on in the season gave us more momentum and confidence going into the latter half.
Winning trophies is fun!