Kara Lang moves to broadcast booth for World Cup

Once defined by her booming shot, Kara Lang is now lending her voice to help further women's soccer.
Kara Lang played for Canada at the 2003 and 2007 FIFA Women's World Cuphina. (Lee Jin-man/Associated Press)

Once defined by her booming shot, Kara Lang is now lending her voice to help further women's soccer.

Lang is working as a television analyst for Rogers Sportsnet on the FIFA Women's World Cup, a career move that comes just six months after a second devastating knee injury forced her to walk away from the playing pitch for good.

The 24-year-old from Oakville, Ont., is thrilled to remain involved in the game after an illustrious career that ended far too soon.

"It definitely pulls at my heart a little bit to know how exciting it is to be a part of a World Cup and especially this World Cup. It's going to be the biggest and the best ever," Lang said in a recent interview from her Los Angeles home.

"So of course I would love to be a part of that as a player, but at the same time, I'm also very fortunate to have this opportunity to at least be a part of it in some way.

"I said that when I retired I really wanted to stay involved in the game, and help to continue to grow the game in the country. This is really the best opportunity for me to do that besides being on the field."

Lang burst onto the international soccer scene as a teenager, becoming the first 15-year-old to play for Canada's squad in a 2002 match against Scotland. She scored twice in her second game two days later against Wales, the first of 34 goals she would score over 92 games.

She and longtime teammate Christine Sinclair, who scored Canada's lone goal on a free kick in a 2-1 loss to Germany in the team's opening game of the World Cup on Sunday, made for a formidable Canadian strike force when they lined up together.

"As a 'keeper, she had the hardest shot I had ever faced from a woman," Canadian veteran goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc said the day Lang retired. "You just hoped to get in the way."

Lang tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2006, and then ripped up the same knee in 2009 playing college soccer for UCLA.

She had been taking anti-inflammatories for more than a year when she finally made the difficult decision to retire. Doctors had told her if she continued to play, she may need a knee replacement by her mid-30s.

Lang teaches yoga in Los Angeles, and runs surfing camps in Costa Rica. But her knee took such a beating over the course of her career that she's still unable to run.

"It's pretty frustrating, it's kind of one of those things that I'm going to have to deal with for the rest of my life," Lang said. "It's been hard not playing, but I'm fortunate that I've got a lot of other things."

Lang spent the final year and a half of her national team career under coach Carolina Morace, who's changed the team's playing style since her hiring in 2009, preferring possession soccer over the long-ball game Canada's women used to be famous for.

She believes the future is bright with Morace at the helm.

"I think the team has improved both individually and collectively by leaps and bounds," Lang said. "I think Carolina came in at the exact right time and everything that she's done, from the style of play to the style of training that the team does, and even the mindset the team has now is completely different. And I think that it's exactly what the program needed to be able to compete with the best in the world."

Lang played in two World Cups, scoring two goals in six games in 2003 when Canada lost to the U.S. in the bronze-medal match. She also was a member of the Canadian team that played at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

She studied communications at UCLA with the aim of becoming a broadcast journalist.

Lang isn't the only women's player-turned-journalist. Clare Rustad, who made more than 40 appearances for Canada, is serving as an analyst with CBC while former American midfielder Julie Foudy is working as an ESPN analyst.