When she was 18, she passed up an athletic scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina and signed with Paris St. Germain, which was in the process of upgrading its women's program to rival the great Lyon team that has dominated French and European soccer for the last decade.
“For me, I learned so much in a different way and a more uncomfortable way," she said. "Obviously, I didn’t speak the language and I had to grow up really quickly."
PSG was and is a multi-national team with players from all around the world. Her teammates included Swedish star Kosovare Asilani, whom she will face when the USA faces Sweden in their third group match in Le Havre, and Cristiane, who scored a hat trick in Brazil's 3-0 win over Jamaica to open the Women's World Cup.
Horan watched France beat South Korea, 4-0, in the Women's World Cup opener, but most of her French teammates at PSG on the national team are no longer part of Les Bleues, who have been rebuilt over the last two years under new coach Corinne Diacre.
American Tobin Heath was also at PSG for parts of Horan's first two seasons and is now her teammate at the Portland Thorns. Horan says she has great memories of their time in Paris going out to eat at Indian and Mexican restaurants and she hopes to go back to her apartment later in the week. The USA will face Chile at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.
Horan, the 2018 NWSL MVP with the Thorns, and her U.S. teammates arrived in Reims for Tuesday's match against Thailand on Friday night from England, where they had been training at Tottenham's complex outside London.
"We were in an environment that was secluded," she said on Saturday, "but it was so amazing. It was the best facilities, the best fields. We were just so happy to be together. We were able to take all the pressure of what we were doing away. Now, that we are here in France we have a few extra days to prepare for our first game. We don't see it as a bad thing. We see it as a good thing. We are anxious for the first game."
While Horan's teammates can use her to help translate, she is learning from the veterans of previous World Cups about how to prepare mentally for the tournament.
“I’ve gotten so much advice from so many of the older players that this is one of the best experiences of your life," she said. "And to add extra pressure during this time, or in between games or right before a first game, isn’t helping. So I’m just enjoying the moment with my teammates, try to do the best I can and enjoy watching the best players in the world.”