The date is March 8, 2020. Mia Fishel’s brace for the USA U-20 team helps beat Mexico 4-1 in the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship final, giving Fishel 13 goals for the tournament and seeing the U.S. lift the trophy for the sixth time in nine tournaments.
Fishel wins the competition’s Golden Ball award for best player four years after her incredible showing at the CONCACAF U-15 Women’s Championship saw her bestowed with the same honor.
More than three years later, and now 22, Fishel finally has made her debut for the USWNT senior team. It wasn’t supposed to take this long.
The Sporting News brings you everything you need to know about a player who could prove critical to the U.S. national team at a time of true uncertainty.
Who is Mia Fishel?
Fishel first burst onto the scene as a young teenager in the U.S. youth national system, starring for the U.S. women with a seven-goal haul at that U-15 Women’s Championship as she helped the United States claim the title.
She committed to storied college program UCLA and would spend three seasons with the Bruins, scoring 32 career goals in 59 appearances, winning the Pac-12 title in her junior year and reaching the semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
After deciding to go pro in 2022, Fishel was drafted fifth overall in the NWSL draft by the Orlando Pride by her college coach Amanda Cromwell who was hired by the club that offseason. However, she decided instead to sign with Liga MX club Tigres UNAL instead.
Fishel was critical of the NWSL draft system at the time. “I wanted to take control of my own destiny and where I want to play – and with the draft, you just can’t do that,” she said.
Mia Fishel. pic.twitter.com/BcLAsPWlSj
— U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 24, 2023
It was a move that may have backfired, as her lack of exposure in the Mexican league saw her fade into obscurity. Fishel was selected for USWNT training in October 2020, but the call-up was simply a camp with COVID-19 still raging.
She would not be brought into the fold again until the September 2023 friendlies in the aftermath of that summer’s Women’s World Cup disappointment.
Mia Fishel. On for her @USWNT debut! ????
— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) September 24, 2023
Mia Fishel transfer move to FA WSL giants Chelsea
While Fishel dropped out of the USWNT picture following her move to Tigres, she did not disappear off the professional map. After scoring 38 goals in 48 appearances for Tigres, Fishel had made enough noise to secure a move to English side Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the rapidly growing FA Women’s Super League.
Her reported $250,000 transfer fee made Fishel the ninth-most expensive player ever in women’s football, and she currently sits 10th after Arsenal spent $373,000 on Australian international Kyra Cooney-Cross just months later.
Without even making an appearance for the Blues, the transfer immediately put Fishel back on the USWNT map, and she received a call-up from interim head coach Twila Kilgore in September of 2023 for a pair of friendlies against South Africa.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) September 24, 2023
Chelsea reacted with a supportive message on social media as Fishel made her debut by coming on with 25 minutes remaining of a 2-0 win for her nation at Soldier Field on September 25.
Fishel replaced Alex Morgan, and stats experts Opta pointed out that she was the third player since 2016 to make her USWNT bow while playing for a European club.
Almost four years after those extraordinary performances as a youth, the best could be about to come for one of the USWNT’s brightest potential senior talents.