As Team USA once again steps onto the 2023 Women’s World Cup fields, many Latinos are looking for two names emblazoned on the back of the jerseys: Sanchez and Huerta.

This power duo represents the thriving Latino community within the United States. Moreover, it is a beacon of inspiration for young Latina players who dream of reaching similar heights.

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Following a pioneer

Sofia Huerta, a 30-year-old veteran player, and Ashley Sanchez, a spry 24-year-old, are making their mark at this year’s tournament. Both Latina players proudly display their Mexican-American heritage on the field.

Their inclusion on Team USA follows the legacy of the only Mexican-American player to have previously participated in the World Cup — Stephanie Cox.

Huerta and Sanchez’s selection demonstrates their relentless determination, tireless work ethic, and unwavering resilience.

“I’ve always believed I could do it. It’s a testament to the hard work and resilience I’ve had,” shared Huerta, an Idaho native, in an interview with People en Español. Sánchez echoed the sentiment, calling her World Cup debut “the result of a lifetime of work.”

That Mexican feeling

Despite being born and raised in the United States, Huerta and Sanchez consider their Mexican roots a crucial part of their identities, though that hasn’t always been easy to navigate.

“Growing up, I was one of the few Mexicans around, and it wasn’t something I valued. But now, being different is celebrated,” Huerta told People En Español. For her part, Sanchez discovered the power of embracing her roots through a supportive community that valued her for who she was.

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The stories of these Latina players represent more than their personal triumphs; they are a beacon for young Latinos aspiring to shine on the world soccer stage.

“When I was growing up, I never saw a surname that I identified with on Team USA, so it’s simply amazing that I have this opportunity to inspire many little boys and girls,” shared an excited Sanchez.

Huerta, who previously played for Mexico’s national team in 2012 and 2013, speaks with particular clarity about the challenges of dual cultural identity.

“It’s difficult to have different cultural roots in this country because sometimes you feel you have to choose what you identify with more. I didn’t want to give up representing my Hispanic side if I play with the United States,” she stated.

Her historic representation builds on Team USA’s strong legacy at previous Women’s World Cups. With four wins, including back-to-back victories in 2015 and 2019, Team USA has long been a dominant force in women’s soccer. 

They opened the 2023 World Cup with a big win against Vietnam.

However, Latinas in the sport have been notably scarce, with only a few featuring on the U.S. team over the years. 

Therefore, the selection of Sanchez and Huerta carries significant weight and is an encouraging step toward greater diversity and inclusion in the sport.

Two inspiring Latina players

Their selection does more than check a box. It inspires, motivates, and sends a powerful message to aspiring Latina players everywhere: there’s a place for you on the field. Thanks to their talent, drive, and heritage, Sanchez and Huerta are undoubtedly changing the face of soccer, one goal at a time.