Rodman’s brace gives USWNT a new look in attack ahead of World Cup

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SAN JOSE, California — The U.S. women’s national team concluded its World Cup preparations with a 2-0 victory against Wales.

The U.S. dominated the proceedings in terms of possession, but struggled to break down a stubborn Wales defense. It was left to second half substitute Trinity Rodman to make the difference, scoring a pair of second half goals off the bench. The first came in the 76th when she delivered a first-time finish following excellent link play from Lynn Williams and Sophia Smith. She doubled her tally, as well as the U.S. lead, 11 minutes later with a powerful finish.

The Americans will open the World Cup on July 21 Against Vietnam.


Rapid reaction

1. Rodman gives U.S. a different look up top

Rodman’s role on this U.S. team was thought to be primarily on the wing, but with there no dedicated backup to presumed starter Alex Morgan, the Washington Spirit forward stated her case for more playing time. After entering the match at halftime for Alex Morgan, Rodman provided more of a physical presence up top with her slashing runs and ability to body up the Welsh defenders. And she proved to be in the right place at the right time to latch on to Smith’s centering feed before she showed off her fierce shot for the second goal.

It was a performance that will provide confidence for Rodman, and some comfort for head coach Vlatko Andonovski. The U.S. manager still has some questions to answer about his midfield (more on that later) and a lack of depth at center back. But now at least he’ll have a bit more confidence about his options up top.

2. Depth pays off against Wales’ stout defense

Send-off games often need to be accompanied by a heavy dose of perspective. Health is of utmost importance, and this match witnessed Andonovski managing minutes for the likes of Julie Ertz and Rose Lavelle. There’s also a desire not to give too much away in terms of tactics, saving such wrinkles for the games that matter. That may explain why send-off games in the past have been a bit underwhelming, with the 1-0 win over Mexico in 2011 and the 0-0 tie with South Korea coming to mind. The U.S. only reached the final in 2011 and won it all in 2015.

For those reasons, combined with the absence of Wales and OL Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock, it was a complete surprise to see the Americans struggle in the attacking third. The U.S. were utterly dominant on the ball, holding a whopping 75-25 edge in possession in the first half, and allowing Wales just 32 touches in the attacking half during that same period. But with Wales content to drop deep, rarely did the home side’s dominance translate into clear goal scoring opportunities. Both Alyssa Thompson and Smith were able to get isolated at times, but the end product in terms of delivery and shots on goal was lacking. Crystal Dunn got to the end line with regularity as well, but couldn’t deliver the pass to unlock the Wales defense.

Set pieces proved to be more somewhat more fruitful, but headers from Andi Sullivan and Ashley Sanchez missed the target. A driven ball from open play found Lindsey Horan in the box in the 11th minute, but her header was saved by Welsh keeper Olivia Clark.

The second half saw more of the same even as the U.S. cranked up the pressure. An Alana Cook header from a corner in the 68th minute was cleared off the line by Wales forward Kayleigh Green. But one advantage that the U.S. has is their incomparable depth, and that proved to be the difference on the game-winner in the 76th minute. Williams found Smith in space — one of the few times all day that the U.S. got behind the Wales defense — and her pass allowed Rodman to finish into an open net. Rodman netted again with three minutes of normal time remaining to put the game away.

3. Are the absences of Ertz and Lavelle a concern?

All week, there have been assurances from the U.S. camp that the health status of Ertz was nothing to worry about, even as she was held out of Friday’s practice. On Sunday she didn’t see the field at all.

On this day it didn’t really matter. With the U.S. owning the ball, Sullivan operated as a single pivot, allowing Horan to push forward into the attack. But there is a sense that when the World Cup begins, the U.S. midfield will face sterner tests. There’s also the fact that Ertz is among those expected to provide some depth in the center of defense. If she’s not able to go, then that leaves the U.S. even thinner in the back.

There are also worries about the U.S.’s ability to break down a low block. Granted, it’s something that teams round the world struggle to combat, and it’s worth noting that the game-winning goal came on a rare transition opportunity. Against an organized Wales defense, the U.S. struggled, with Sanchez in particular not having much of an impact. The U.S. can expect to see more of the same in the tournament opener against Vietnam. All of this highlights the need of Lavelle to get healthy, at least in time for the later stages of the tournament.


Best and worst performers

BEST

Trinity Rodman (U.S.): Excelling in the forward position is about taking advantage of opportunities, and Rodman did just that with two goals.

Rhiannon Roberts (Wales): On a day in which the right side of the Wales defense was tested constantly, Roberts held up well, delivering 21 defensive interventions.

Andi Sullivan (U.S.): Did her job in locking down the midfield and her deliveries into the box were the catalyst for some U.S. chances in the first half.

WORST

Ashley Sanchez (U.S.): Was barely heard from, except when she headed Sullivan’s free kick off target in the first half. Needs to provide a more dynamic presence if she’s to fill in for Lavelle.

Alyssa Thompson (U.S.): Thompson remains a dynamic presence on the flank, but didn’t make the most of her opportunities, especially in terms of her delivery from the flank.

Alex Morgan (U.S.): Another U.S. attacker who was far too quiet, and was duly substituted at halftime.


Highlights and notable moments

25-year-old Savannah DeMelo made her U.S. senior team debut.

Rodman broke the deadlock between the two sides after linking up with Smith.

Rodman was on the scoresheet again after a brilliant strike!


After the match: What the players/managers said

Quotes to come…


Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

  • This is the first time the USWNT fail to score in the first half of a match (all comps) since the opening game of 2023 against New Zealand (won 4-0).

  • Trinity Rodman scored her first goal for the USWNT in over a year (July 7, 2022), and her 3rd overall.

  • Trinity Rodman with her first multi-goal performance for the USWNT.

  • Rodman is the youngest (21-050) USWNT player with a multi-goal game since Mallory Swanson scored twice against Australia at 20 years, 340 days on April 4, 2019.


Up next

USWNT: The U.S. women kick off their 2023 World Cup campaign against Vietnam on July 21 at 9 p.m. ET.

Wales: Their next match is in the UEFA Women’s Nations League against Iceland on Sept. 22.



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