Even if you’re just a casual fan of the U.S. Women’s National Team, there’s a pretty good chance that you know the name Sydney Leroux. Whether it’s her intricate tattoos, her megawatt smile, or her raw natural talent on the field, the Canadian-American striker is a true international superstar.
So when we heard Leroux was visiting New York—courtesy of Neutrogena CoolDry SPORT Sunscreen—we were only too happy to welcome her back to the city where she and her fellow World Cup champions paraded down the “Canyon of Heroines” this summer.
We put the Vancouver-born Leroux through the lightning round, where she dished on her favorite workout moves, her preparation for the Rio Olympics, and her best piece of relationship advice for men.
MF: What’s your favorite social media platform?
SL: Instagram. [@SydneyLeroux, where she posts training videos, photos of her dogs, and the occasional swimsuit pic.]
MF: Favorite sports movie?
SL: Miracle or Remember the Titans.
MF: Favorite album to listen to in the gym?
SL: Anything Beyoncé.
MF: Favorite pump up song?
SL: “Cheerleader” by Omi. Right now.
MF: Any classic/old school standby pump up songs?
SL: Old school? “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison.
MF: Favorite place to play soccer?
SL: Probably Vancouver or Los Angeles.
MF: Favorite workout supplement?
SL: Body Armor.
MF: Favorite moment from the World Cup?
SL: Probably the final—being in Vancouver, my hometown, the city I was born in. And, obviously, winning and seeing my family and my husband.
MF: Tim Horton’s, or an American coffee place?
SL: Tim Horton’s. Way better.
MF: We saw you had surgery on your foot not long after the World Cup. How’s rehab going?
SL: Rebab’s going really well. I was cleared to run two days ago. Yesterday I had my first big run, and I felt really good. When you’re doing something foreign to your body like having surgery, it takes a little while to get back. So I still feel a little different. My foot feels different, actually. But it was a good surgery. It went well.
MF: Are you ready to play?
SL: Oh, I’m ready to play right now. If they said, ‘You’re cleared to play, it’s just going to hurt,’ I would be playing.
MF: What are your key workout moves for agility and speed?
SL: I love working with stretch bands. We do a lot of that on the national team. Where you’re in the stretch band and you have your partner holding you back and you’re sprinting, sprinting, sprinting. And then they let you go and you feel like Usain Bolt. So, I love band work.
MF: What’s the story of your first tattoo?
SL: I was 14 years old. I bet my mom that I was going to score 10 goals at nationals. She said ‘no chance.’ And I scored 14. And she promised me, so she’s like ‘Okay you have to get something that you’re going to love forever.’ And I was like ‘Well, I’ll love soccer forever.’ So I got a flaming soccer ball on my back, which is now long gone and covered up. But yeah, it was flaming tribal soccer ball. It was so ugly. There are no pictures of it. It’s definitely rest in peace. No one has a picture of it, thank god.
MF: You obviously have a rock-solid relationship with your husband, Dom Dwyer. What is the one thing that guys don’t know that women really appreciate in relationships?
SL: As much as men like their space and their time to do their own thing—whether it’s watching the game, whatever—I think women need that, too. I think my husband knows me well enough to know when I need a moment. Especially when things are intense for me, and especially with soccer. This World Cup was a crazy intense situation. So when someone’s in those moments, you have to be able to step back and be like ‘Alright, I’ll give her a minute.’
MF: How are you translating the popularity of the World Cup to greater popularity for the National Women’s Soccer League [NWSL]? Whether it’s your club team, the Western New York Flash, or any women’s pro team, what’s the next step?
SL: We have a little bit of an increase. I think it’s an 18% increase from after we won the World Cup. But still, that’s not good enough. The next step is to get the NWSL more exposure and have players come in from Europe—to have the NWSL be a true women’s professional league. That may mean connecting teams to more [Major League Soccer] teams. Look what the Portland Thorns have done by being connected to the Portland Timbers—they sell out with their women’s team, which is amazing.
MF: So, to be a true international team.
SL: Exactly. Where people from [Germany’s] Bundesliga are coming in and playing.
MF: You and the team are on the #RoadtoRio. What’s on your mind?
This injury really made things a lot more real for me. I’ve been playing soccer since I was 4 years old. So I’ve never really had a break for a long time. This made me think, ‘Oh my goodness. I miss soccer. I love it so much.’ And I’ve been working really hard and I’m so excited to get back to playing. I know that a lot of people have said that they don’t think I’m going to come back. I just turned 25, so I’m young still. I would say that I would still count myself as pretty young. You know, I’m the third-youngest player on the team.
MF: And you were the youngest at the London Olympics, right?
SL: I was the youngest at the Olympics. And I love proving people wrong. I’m so excited to come back.
MF: Does your preparation, injury or not, change for the Olympics?
SL: Well, considering this is the first time we’ve won a World Cup and then headed straight into an Olympics, it’s a little different. There’s not really time to rest. As soon as you win the World Cup, your eyes are on Rio and the Olympics. For me, with the injury obviously, my focus is coming back. So I don’t have any time off. As soon as I was able to run, I was running. We’ve already started our preparation.
MF: Is there a difference in the mental preparation? ‘Okay, well we did this at World Cup so the other teams will be expecting that.’
SL: The pressure’s on. That’s for sure. We proved that. And that was my dream, as a little girl, to play on the best team in the world. And I can say that I did that. But winning an Olympics and winning a World Cup, and now having the chance to win another one, I want to go and I want to keep going.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.