USA’s forwards might be grabbing all the headlines at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, but behind every success story, there is invariably an unsung hero. Emily Ogle might just be that person for the Stars and Stripes’ Class of 2016.

A captain for a chunk of the campaign prior to Papua New Guinea 2016, Ogle is a hard-working cog in the centre of midfield, keeping the ball moving in possession and closing down opposition space when in defence. She describes her key attributes as “technical, analytical and competitive”. Perfect characteristics for a midfield pivot role. Ogle has shared the defensive midfield role with Katie Cousins during Papua New Guinea 2016, pushing a little higher in the midfield diamond at other times.

Growing up in Strongsville, Ohio, Ogle had posters of USA icons Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain on her wall when she was young, undoubtedly fantasising about playing out her own football ambitions. Now over a decade later, she is quite literally living the dream, rubbing shoulders amongst the world’s best for the age-group. “It has always been a dream of mine to play in a World Cup, and to play for the US national team,” Ogle told FIFA.com. “It is pretty awesome that I am finally here and also that my parents were able to come.”

Indeed Ogle’s parents arrived just in time to see USA’s memorable 2-1 come-from-behind win over Mexico. It was, in fact, the first time they had been present to see their daughter don the USA shirt. “I’m so glad they could see me play, and there was a lot of emotions,” said Ogle. “It wasn’t easy for them to come because I have four brothers back home.”

Humility and resilience
Ogle is one of six players at the tournament from Penn State University – an institute renowned for the quality and quantity of its football production line. Even one of Germany’s players at Papua New Guinea 2016 – Laura Freigang – attends the University.

Ogle, who is majoring in Kinesiology, is reluctant to talk too much about her leadership role within the team. “There are a lot of us (leaders) on any given day, but I enjoy it and try to embrace it,” Ogle said. One gets the impression humility is in the Ogle DNA.

That said, there is no doubting USA’s mental fortitude. The three-time champions were ten minutes away from elimination yet still found a way to win their quarter-final against Mexico, having also come from behind to draw against Ghana in the group stage.

“We always want to put our best foot forward,” says Ogle, when asked about USA’s mindset. “We always believe we can win, and the match (against Mexico) was a perfect example of that. It is just the way we play and the USA mentality … that we can push through and get the result.”

Ogle’s history with the national team dates all the way back to 2010 and U-14s selection. However, USA missed qualification for the 2014 FIFA U-17 World Cup, meaning Ogle is in the midst of her first experience on the global stage.

“It has been a crazy experience so far, it has been awesome,” continued the 20-year-old. “For most of us this is our first big event. But we are not done yet, and are excited for the next game.

“Everyone has been so nice and friendly in Papua New Guinea. Everyone will give you a little wave. It is cool and it is not every day you get to come to places like this. I think we are all very fortunate to get to come to places like this, and see the world and do it with our team-mates.”