COBB COUNTY - As Team USA is off to a great start at the Women's World Cup, one member of the Atlanta Braves is paying extra-close attention to the matches.
"We watch it some in here," Dansby Swanson said. "I pretty much just record the games and watch when I get home so I can really pay attention."
Swanson, the Braves' standout shortstop, is the boyfriend of US Women's National Team forward Mallory Pugh. While Swanson is private about his personal life, he's proud of supporting his significant other on the global soccer stage. He even recently wore a US Women's team soccer jersey around SunTrust Park.
"I've actually come to really enjoy watching soccer; I never thought I would say that before," said Swanson. "Starting to understand it more, and being able to support somebody is awesome."
As Swanson's Braves are rolling lately, Pugh is doing the same. She scored a goal in the United States' World Cup opening win over Thailand, and at 21 years old, she could be a fixture on the national team for years to come.
"I know how much time she puts in, and how much effort she puts in," said Swanson. "I'm just always happy she gets to do what she loves, and she takes full opportunity and advantage of those opportunities."
The Braves shortstop says the two elite athletes definitely have one trait in common: their love of competition. In fact, the Marietta High School alum says the two occasionally compete in sports outside both of their areas of expertise.
"I'd say the competitiveness is equal," said Swanson, "but I'm the better athlete! She knows! We've played ping pong, we've bowled."
If Pugh was asked the same question, however: "She'd probably say herself."
As the tournament rolls on, Swanson will be rooting for Pugh and her teammates, and he counts himself among the growing number of Americans who appreciate women's soccer, especially their standing on the international stage.
"It's so much fun to see," said Swanson. "I've really been inspired by those girls, they've really changed a lot of people's perspective on things. Just what they do in community, they're tremendous people. I wish that would get highlighted more often, but I think it's really cool and I think it's really neat."
The Braves are flying to Washington, D.C. Thursday afternoon for their upcoming series with the Washington Nationals, meaning if Swanson wants to watch Team USA's matchup with Sweden live, he'll have to watch at least part of it on the team plane.