The saga of Kristen Hamilton has reached a new chapter. The 27-year-old forward was officially announced as a member of the USWNT for the upcoming Victory Tour matches against Portugal on August 29th in Philadelphia and September 3rd in Minneapolis. Hamilton had previously been called for the U-23 squad at the 2019 Nordic Tournament in England, but the re-allocation to the senior squad is a major step up. You might be wondering how a 27-year-old was going to participate with the U-23 side. Well, the United States decided to use the Nordic Tournament as a B-squad this season because of scheduling issues with the NCAA, so most of the players are not actually U-23.
Making the most of 2019
Hamilton’s sudden ascent has been one of the brightest stories to come out of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The entire National Women’s Soccer League was upended during the tournament, but very few of the players left behind made the most of their opportunity. Casey Short, who was also called up for this week’s Victory Tour matches, is the only other player from outside of the World Cup squad to make the roster. Short was one of the last two players cut from the team that went to France to win the World Cup, but unlike McCall Zerboni, she continued to play at a high level. The other player who probably won a future look at the USWNT is Washington’s Andi Sullivan, who has played extremely well this season.
Unlike Short and Sullivan, Kristen Hamilton has never had a shot with the senior National team. Her first three years in the league were marked with sporadic play. When she finally got substantial minutes in 2018, she was largely played as a 10 instead of her natural forward tendencies. She scored her first two goals in a single match against the Boston Breakers in 2017, but she only played for 154 minutes that season. 2018 saw a much larger block of playing time, 781 minutes, but she scored just three goals. Then she exploded in 2019.
The beginning of the season was more of the same for Hamilton. Leah Pruitt was drafted in the first round and consistently got substitute minutes as a forward. This left Hamilton subbing in as a midfielder, and she continued to play well but unexceptionally. When head coach Paul Riley switched from the standard box midfield to a 4-2-3-1 in the June 1st match against the Orlando Pride it was an act of desperation for a team that had gone four games without a win. The move allowed Hamilton to get higher up the field with protection underneath, and she took the opportunity to score thrice. It was the first hat trick of her career, but it didn’t take long for her to eclipse that performance.
The game that shook the league
After her three-goal game to give the Courage their first win in five matches, the Courage played to a 1-1 draw against Portland, and then Hamilton had to sit out of a 2-1 win on the road against the Washington Spirit because she picked up a slight knock. The next game would put her name in the record books.
On July 5th, with the Courage hosting the Houston Dash, everything seemed normal. Kristen Hamilton woke up and ate a stack of pancakes, just like she usually does before a game. The match started, and Hammy scored her first goal in just the 5th minute.
Then her second goal in the 18th minute got a little more flair on it.
The hat trick goal was a thing of beauty, brimming with confidence and putting Allysha Chapman on the turf.
And the record tying goal came in the 71st minute.
In some ways, it’s unfortunate that the USWNT won the World Cup less than 48 hours after this game, because something like that will overshadow anything. But now, Kristen Hamilton gets to go play with that World Cup winning squad in their Victory Tour. A tribute to her putting the team on her back when they needed her most. Something that nobody else in the league can say.