(Soccer America begins its countdown to the 2015 Women's World Cup with the first of 20 profiles of the women to watch in Canada.)
Veronica Boquete may be the best player at the Women's World Cup you've never heard of. She doesn't play for one of the title contenders, and Spain lags behind other
major European nations in terms of its acceptance of futbol femenino. But she has been a star in three U.S. women's league and will return to next week's UEFA Women's Champions league final with FFC
Few remember much about the final season of WPS except perhaps the saga of magicJack and its owner, the late Daniel Borislow, whose squabbles with the league office and other owners were perhaps the final straw for the ill-fated league.
But the 2011 WPS MVP was Boquete, who captured the league's top honor despite playing just 11 of 18 games for the Philadelphia Independence. Her coach was Paul Riley, and she says it was because of Riley, named the Thorns coach before the 2014 season, that she agreed to return to the United States in 2014 to play for the Thorns last
Vero was so good she was the only player to be named to the 2014 NWSL Best XI from the league's defending champions, a team with such stars as Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair.
It was a long way from the northwest of Spain -- and her Galician hometown of Santiago de
Compostela -- to the Pacific northwest. There was no girls team for her to play on as a child, so she played on a boys team and endured verbal abuse from fans.
She first came to the United States to play for the Buffalo Flash (now Western New York Flash). After scoring nine goals in nine games and helping the Flash win the 2010 W-League title, she moved to
WPS's Chicago Red Stars and then to the Independence. After that, it was stints in Russia with Energiya Voronezh and in Sweden with Tyreso, where her roommate was American star Christen Press.
Following the 2014 NWSL season, Boquete returned to Europe, where she signed for FFC Frankfurt. A year after representing Tyreso in the
UEFA Women's Champions League, Boquete will play for Frankfurt against Paris St. Germain in the 2015 final May 14 in Berlin.
Vero led Spain to the European Championship for the first time
in 2012 when her goal in overtime stoppage time gave it a 3-2 win over Scotland that qualified it for Euro 2013, prompting this epic "Gol! Gol! Gol" call below from the Spanish commentator. Just
minutes earlier, she had missed a penalty kick that seemingly eliminated Spain.
Spain will be making its first appearance in the Women's World Cup, having qualified for Canada 2015 with an undefeated record, completing a run for a generation
of Spain players that began with the 2004 Under-19 European title. Boquete is one of five U-19 starters on Spain's preliminary squad for the World Cup.
It is an important step for women's
soccer, which remains a minor sport in Spain. This year, Boquete became the first Spanish woman to sign a personal endorsement deal with federation outfitter adidas. But it is modest in scope. It
covers just six months and includes product, but no cash.