Chicago Red Stars forward Katie Johnson discusses playing for the Mexican national team, her journey across the NWSL, and Chi-Town.
While the United States women’s national team takes a well-deserved victory tour following their fourth World Cup title, there is a player entering her prime that chose to represent our southern neighbors. Chicago Red Stars forward Katie Johnson was born in the United States to a Mexican mother and made the bold decision to play for the 27th-FIFA ranked side over the top-ranked one. Johnson explains her decision, which came after an ACL injury in college, “One of my goals was to play in the Olympics or World Cup, so I decided I could make a bigger impact in soccer playing for Mexico.”
Expanding on her goals, she adds, “Changing the Mexican culture of soccer. I want to be able to play in the Olympics and maybe I would consider playing in the league in Mexico (Liga MX Femenil) in the next few years. I just want to represent that side and make us proud.”
Over the weekend, she was the definition of a difference maker, scoring the lone goal in a Red Stars win over the Houston Dash. After filling in up top for Sam Kerr during the World Cup, Johnson returned to playing as an attacking midfielder last night. When asked where she’s most comfortable on the pitch, she answers, “It depends on the personnel. I’m very comfortable in both situations. I like to be a part of the play and be connected, but I also like to run behind lines. It just depends on the situation. Recently, I’ve liked playing behind the ball.”
Playing on the wing or directly behind the striker seems to best utilize her top skill on the pitch: decision making. She says she is able to break down a team visually, then can quickly problem solve after that.
One thing she can’t seem to figure out is why there are no NWSL clubs in her native California, despite countless professional male clubs across the state. “I am so shocked. When I went to the LAFC game, I wanted a women’s team to be there so badly,” she says. “It would bring in so many fans and there’s already a culture there, so it’s like why not?” Katie explains that one of her favorite parts about the NWSL, as she plays for her third team in the league, is the different cultures you encounter at each stop and how much they enjoy soccer. She also adds that she’s loved making friends at each stop.
After playing for Seattle and Sky Blue FC, Johnson is enjoying her time in the Windy City. She enjoys going to the lake, walking her dog, and checking out the local restaurants. Katie, who considers herself a foodie, doesn’t love the traditional Chicago deep-dish pizza but says Aba and Piece Brewery have caught her culinary attention.
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Glorious is a Hot Doug’s Atomic Pizza—our red sauce topped with @hotdougs Atomic Sausage, caramelized onions, on our red sauce with pepperjack cheese, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, and a splash of EVVO. And don’t miss pic 2–slide left—for our beers on tap, which includes a bunch of medal winners. Stop in soon and enjoy! #chicagosmostawardwinningbrewpub
Whether it’s in her domestic league or on the international stage with Mexico, Katie Johnson will continue to impact the game and make a name for herself in women’s soccer. Her club will get prime exposure next weekend as they face North Carolina Courage on ESPN 2. The match kicks off at 7 PM Central Time on Sunday, 7/21.