UCLA women’s soccer forward Mia Fishel called up to USWNT training camp
Forward Mia Fishel scored 14 goals for UCLA women’s soccer in 2019 and is training with the US Women’s National Team ahead of an uncertain sophomore season. (Daily Bruin file photo. Photo illustration by Nghi Nguyen/Daily Bruin staff)
Oct. 23, 2020 2:34 p.m.
This post was updated Oct. 25 at 7:22 p.m.
Mia Fishel walked onto the field in Commerce City, Colorado, knowing full well she was the youngest of 27 players vying for a spot on the United States Women’s National Team.
In fact, she knew this would be the case as soon as she received her invitation via email. Fishel assumed it was for the U-20 FIFA World Cup – until she read the fine print and found her name listed alongside seasoned professionals.
“I was dumbfounded,” said the UCLA women’s soccer forward. “It’s anyone’s dream who plays soccer to be on the full national team … I was crying, it was just such a rewarding moment.”
The 19-year-old saw her sophomore season with the Bruins postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic but received news that she had been invited to her first USWNT full team camp, which runs Oct. 18-28.
Although this marked Fishel’s first full team call-up, she has had plenty of experience in the youth system, including at the 2020 CONCACAF U-20 Championships, where she scored a record-setting 13 goals to win the Golden Boot Award.
Fishel also made her mark during her first season at UCLA, leading the Bruins with 14 goals – six of which were game-winners – and 31 points.
Former UCLA forward Ashley Sanchez, who chose to forgo her final season with the Bruins in favor of joining the National Women’s Soccer League, also made the camp roster. Sanchez left Westwood as UCLA’s record holder for all-time assists, with 42 in three seasons, including 15 during the 2019 season.
“(Fishel and Sanchez are) on the right trajectory, and I think the outlook for both of them is very bright,” said UCLA women’s soccer coach Amanda Cromwell. “They both have very special skill sets – I think there’s players on the national team that don’t necessarily play like them.”
The U.S. has been in a restructuring year following its win at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the hiring of new head coach Vlatko Andonovski. As a result, many of the national team veterans have signed league contracts abroad, which prevented them from entering camp.
This made room for 10 uncapped players, including four current collegiate athletes and six players 21 years old and younger. Fishel said while she’s disappointed to miss out on a chance to compete with the regular starters, she sees the young player pool as an opportunity.
“It’s a huge advantage,” Fishel said. “It’d be cool to play with a lot of the full national team players, but this is a good first camp to feel it out and get used to the play. This is a chance to prove that I am one of the best younger players right now.”
Cromwell – who was the first person Fishel called after receiving her camp invitation – said the forward will thrive among the young players.
“(Fishel will) shine, and she’ll stand out against all these younger players,” Cromwell said. “Her role going forward – what attracts her to the national team – is as a pure number nine, a back-to-goal nine. She’s a center forward who can hold up play, she can battle for the ball – aerial battles – she’s tough, she’s fierce on defense.”
After giving the news to her college coach, Fishel made the call to her parents back home in San Diego, who were just settling in after returning from a fishing trip.
Mia Fishel’s dad, Patrick Fishel, said he and his wife were shocked and ecstatic when they heard the news, even though he had always believed his daughter would one day make it to the international stage.
“It was just pure emotion … For me, it was more of a feeling of validation because I’ve already seen all the work, I’ve seen this kid that works when nobody’s working,” Patrick Fishel said. “So, did I expect it? At some point, yes.”
When Fishel returns to Westwood at the end of October, she will pick up where she left off – practicing, without knowing when her next collegiate game will be.
But Cromwell said when the Bruins do return to action, Fishel’s abilities will be bolstered from international experience.
“We’ve probably been hit the hardest over the last four years with players being gone with (international call-ups),” Cromwell said. “But I think what we sacrifice, we get back in a lot of different ways with them bringing back professionalism and a certain mindset and mentality that helps our team. Even though (Fishel’s) not the oldest player out there, she’s very mature and she can be a leader.”