USWNT Draws in Their Opening Match of the SheBelieves Cup
It's been a long time since the United States Women's National Team has fielded a roster without any of Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, or Christen Press in the game day lineup. With the mix deciding through retirement, mental health, and rest, head coach Vlatko Andonovski has decided to go with youth for this tournament. With months off from the NWSL Playoffs and the average age of the starting lineup being 25, a few hiccups were rather expected from the US side.
While the USWNT controlled possession for the majority of the game, dangerous chances within the box came far and few between. Within the first 30 minutes, both Sophia Smith and Catarina Macario had left-footed shots pushed out for corners. Andi Sullivan missed an open header off a corner just above the crossbar. In the second half, only Rose Lavelle's shot in the 52nd minute was a threatening opportunity on goal.
Credit has to be given to Czech Republic in their efforts Thursday night, as coming into the top ranked country's home and earning a draw isn't an easy thing to accomplish. Manager Karel Rada's bunkering tactics stalled US's progression from the midfield into the final third. A country that has never qualified for a major international tournament, the 24th ranked Czech Republic is on the rise. Most notably, starting goalkeeper Barbora Votikova had 8 saves while looking very confident in net. Votikova is the starting goalkeeper for French's top flight Paris Saint-German. Votikova will be a pillar of the team as they look continue progressing.
A shout for the United States side, 19 year old Trinity Rodman found herself in a lot of great positions in her national team debut. For those that don't follow women's soccer closely, Trinity is the daughter of former NBA champion Dennis Rodman. Trinity was selected as the second overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft by the Washington Spirit. After that, she skyrocketed her career into being the league's Rookie of the Year, Best Starting XI, U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, and an NWSL Champion. Rodman signed a 4 year extension with the Spirit, making her the highest paid player in league history. From a National Team standpoint, the match against Czech Republic is the beginning of something else to add to her resume.
Rodman will look to net her first international goal as the USWNT returns Sunday at 3 p.m. against New Zealand, the 26th ranked team in the world. New Zealand lost to Iceland 1-0 Thursday evening in their opening match of the SheBelieves Cup.