Lindsey Horan says going overseas was the right decision

Lindsey Horan vs. Brazil, Orlando, Fla., Oct. 25, 2015. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Lindsey Horan vs. Brazil, Orlando, Fla., Oct. 25, 2015. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

There’s been plenty of second-guessing, mostly by the media, ever since Lindsey Horan turned down a scholarship to the University of North Carolina and headed to France straight out of high school to play professionally.

But in a lengthy feature story by U.S. Soccer — titled “Horan’s Home” — she insists that she’s never second-guessed herself.

“Going to Paris when I was 18 was the perfect time for me. … It certainly was a struggle at times, but looking back I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” she says.

The conventional wisdom — which I’ve echoed — is that playing three years with Paris Saint-Germain , while a grand adventure,  put the gifted youngster at a disadvantage in trying to achieve her dream of playing for the U.S. national team.

Almost without exception, the players on the U.S. team have been collegiate stars from American schools with high-profile, successful soccer programs.

There are 20 players on the current, Olympic qualifying roster. Four are from North Carolina, three are from Virginia,  there are two each from Penn State, Stanford, and UCLA, and one each from Texas Tech, Santa Clara, Rutgers, Boston College, Cal, and Washington. That adds up to 19. The outlier is Horan.

Lindsey Horan in her Paris Saint-Germain kit.

Lindsey Horan in her Paris Saint-Germain kit.

While in college, many women also play for the U.S. under-20 or under-23 teams, whose performance is closely monitored by U.S. coach Jill Ellis and her staff.

And almost all of them, after graduation, end up in the National Women’s Soccer League. (Essentially a creation of U.S. Soccer, the NWSL is unfailingly forgiving of players’ absences when the national team calls them away for training camps, friendlies, and tournaments.)

You can’t play for an American college, be a U-23, or join an NWSL club when you’re 4,000 miles away in France.

A corollary to the conventional wisdom — that Horan made a mistake by going to Europe — is that she’s tried to rectify that this year by bidding PSG adieu to sign with the Portland Thorns.

lindsey thorns

She acknowledges in the story that out-of-sight, out-of-mind isn’t a good thing for a young player trying to secure a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, against very strong competition.

“My being in Paris limited the opportunities to perform on a daily basis in front of the [U.S.] coaches,” she says, “and I just wanted to make the best decisions possible to help me achieve my dreams.

“I’ve had a goal for a long time, since I was 15, to be on this team and make those big-time rosters. That’s what it came down to, whatever was going to get me there the quickest.”

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