Freedom's Bompastor Makes Major Impact After Arriving From France

Sonia Bompastor leads Washington in points and is second in the league in assists. Her adaptation to a more physical game is a key to the team's success.
Sonia Bompastor leads Washington in points and is second in the league in assists. Her adaptation to a more physical game is a key to the team's success. (By Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)
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By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 18, 2009

Washington Freedom defender Cat Whitehill didn't recognize Sonia Bompastor's name when she surveyed the roster of her newest teammates upon the launch of Women's Professional Soccer earlier this year.

"We don't really play the French national team that much," said Whitehill, a regular for the U.S. women's national team. "So I was like, 'Oh, we have a defender coming in.' "

It didn't take long, however, for Bompastor to introduce herself.

In her first practice, the 29-year-old French international "blew away" teammates with her skill and energy. And two weeks later, Whitehill again was talking about her new teammate.

"I remember a conversation that [Freedom midfielder] Lori Lindsey and I had," Whitehill recalled. "It was within the first two weeks that [Bompastor] was here and we said, 'If she's not the MVP of the league, she's going to be the MVP of the internationals.' "

In a league full of established names -- from Freedom teammate Abby Wambach to Boston Breakers' English midfielder Kelly Smith to the Los Angeles Sol's Brazilian superstar Marta, considered to be the world's top player -- Bompastor has emerged from the relative unknown to become one of the league's most exciting attacking players.

A creative, hardworking outside midfielder with a seemingly never-ending supply of energy, Bompastor has fueled the league's second-best offense.

Proving both versatile and durable, Bompastor has played 90 minutes in 14 games this season -- missing one match for international duty -- and has done so at every position from defender to forward to her first choice: midfielder. And with four goals and five assists, Bompastor leads the Freedom in points and is second in WPS in assists.

"The first thing I thought when I wanted to come here, it was, okay I am going to play with the best players and I could see if I am a good player or not," said Bompastor, who is still learning English and speaks with a heavy French accent. "And it's good for me to play here because I can see I have work to do, but I have some qualities, too."

While Bompastor may have been a relative unknown here in the United States, she had established herself as one of the top players in her native country.

A winner of four French League championships, two each with clubs Olympique Lyonnais and Montpellier, Bompastor was honored twice as the top player in the French championship. And with more than 100 appearances with the French national team, including in the 2003 Women's World Cup, Bompastor is also a veteran of the international game.

Her history with the sport traces back to childhood, where she used to practice soccer on the sidelines as she watched her oldest brother play and her father referee.

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