forward Sophia Smith (11) makes a pass through England defender Millie Bright (5) last week. (Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Many things in life, as we have learned, is relative.

Take, for example, what Sophia Smith said on Tuesday afternoon.

On one hand, the U.S. women’s national team forward doesn’t have any problems playing in front of a much smaller crowd against Spain on Tuesday after tussling with England at 78K-plus fans at Wembley on Friday.

“We just try not to put too much emphasis on the atmosphere,” Smith said during a Zoom conference call with the media to preview Tuesday’s international friendly against Spain in Pamplona.

A U.S. Soccer official said a crowd of more than 10,000 is expected.

“Obviously playing in Wembley and a sold-out Stadium was amazing and a dream come true for probably all of us,” said Smith, who scored the USA’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss. “But aside from that, I think when it’s only when it comes game time, our main focus is on the game. It’s what we need to do as a team and, just perform and do everything we can on the field and the environment. We try not to let it affect us and think about too much.”

On the other hand, Smith felt it would be a shame if her club team, the Portland Thorns, who packed Providence Park, if the squad didn’t get support from the fans of the National Women’s Soccer League team in the wake of the Sally Q. Yates report.

The second-seeded Thorns will host the winner of the San Diego-Chicago match Sunday, in the second round of the playoffs on Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. ET.

“In terms of our home game coming up, obviously, it would be really disappointing to play in front of an empty, silent stadium,” Smith said. “Fans not showing up affect the players more than it affects anyone. Talking to some of my teammates, we would still really like people to show up and support us because at the end of the day, even through all of this, we still have to step on the field and perform and play soccer. Our biggest thing would be is we want to do that in front of our fans because that’s one of the positive things that we have left in Portland and something that we always look forward to.”

The Thorns are a big part of the Yates report, as former Portland head coach Paul Riley, a former Long Island resident, was named many times for his alleged verbal abuse and sexual misconduct with players.

A week after the report’s release, Smith and her USWNT teammates have dealt with the news and ramifications.

“There’s definitely been lots of conversations happening between us that are here at camp and within the team back home in Portland and the staff,” she said. “There’s been a lot of good discussions happening. They’ve been listening to the players. We’ve expressed how we feel. Haven’t been afraid to speak up. I’m happy with the direction that things are going. I can’t share specific details as a lot of it is confidential within the club right now. But there’s been a lot of discussions happening and changes are being made.”

Smith, 22, has been grateful for the veteran players on the national squad to help the younger ones to digest the report.

“This team is very lucky,” she said. “We have a unique mix of players. We have a lot of veteran players who have been there and been through it all and unfortunately know how to handle a lot of – excuse my language [crap] that goes on. Aside from just playing soccer so we definitely look to those players for advice for any just whatever we may need. It’s hard to balance all of that.

“We have the biggest game that a lot of us have ever played in the same week. So, trying to balance that was definitely hard. People are struggling. It’s not the best, you know, time to be focused on all of this. It’s been a tough week in all honesty, but we younger players are lucky to have people to look to for guidance, and I think we all just kind of had to help each other get through this week. Yeah, emotionally, mentally, physically and all aspects.”

As it turns out, the USWNT will take on a Spain team that will not be at full strength. Fifteen players recently pulled out of the squad, claiming head coach Jorge Vilda had “significantly” affected their “emotional state” and their health.

“It’s sickening,” Smith said. “It’s hard to hear. Is it surprising? I don’t know. I mean, it’s obviously happening everywhere, and that’s what’s horrible. It’s hard to even put into words. As a team, we’ve had discussions about what we can do because … the most important thing is supporting the players. Whatever we can do to support them, we will do because people are doing that for us and the NWSL. We know how powerful that is for people to stand together and support each other.

“The biggest thing is just having discussions and learning about what can be [done] and what can be changed and what needs to be addressed and yeah, things that need to change.”