Monday, February 26, 2024

Trinity Rodman sparks 3-0 victory for USWNT over China

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Trinity Rodman had a goal and two assists to help the United States beat China 3-0 in an exhibition match on Saturday.

Sophia Smith and Lindsey Horan also scored in the first of two exhibition games against China. The second is set for Tuesday in Frisco, Texas, outside of Dallas.

The matches close a difficult year for the United States after the four-time champions were eliminated from the Women’s World Cup this summer in the round of 16, the team’s earliest exit ever.

Smith scored in the eighth minute, beating China goalkeeper Xu Huan off a pass from Rodman. It was Smith’s 15th goal in 37 national team appearances.

Horan made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute, striking the ball from distance before it bounced past Xu. It was her 30th goal.

Rodman capped the scoring in the 77th with an assist from Jaedyn Shaw. Rodman celebrated with a cheeky dance in front of the goal.

“She’s just being really intentional, we see that in training, we see that in games. And she’s starting to play more and more with the players around her as well,” interim U.S. coach Twila Kilgore said about Rodman. “She’s obviously a very gifted individual player and she’s looking to play more with her teammates.”

Veterans Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alyssa Naeher and Crystal Dunn were given some time off as Kilgore focused on youth for her roster.

Among the players called up for the matches were three teenagers: Shaw, Olivia Moultrie and Alyssa Thompson. It was also the first roster appearance for Jenna Nighswonger, who plays for Gotham FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Korbin Albert.

Moultrie and Nighswonger both made their U.S. debuts as second-half substitutes.

Kilgore, an assistant under former U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski, chose the roster in consultation with U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker and Emma Hayes, the new coach who will join the team in May after finishing out the season with Chelsea.

Hayes visited the team during the training camp ahead of the two final matches.

“Twila’s been doing such an amazing job in going from being an assistant coach to being the interim head coach,” Rodman said. “She’s done it so seamlessly and she has a game plan she wants us to execute. She’s so good at communicating it and she holds us to a standard.”

Veteran defender Abby Dahlkemper started against China, making her first appearance for the team in 599 days after having back surgery in October 2022.

Also returning to the starting lineup was Rose Lavelle, who hadn’t played with the team since the World Cup because of an injury. Lavelle played as a winger in Kilgore’s 4-3-3 formation.

“I think it’s so exciting to see the youth coming in and what they can bring,” Lavelle said. “I think they all have such different talents, but I think it’s coming together. It’s an exciting time.”

The Steel Roses, ranked 15th in the world, were runners-up in the 1999 World Cup, won by the United States at the Rose Bowl.

Wang Jun served as interim coach for China. Former coach Shui Qingxia was dismissed after the Steel Roses failed to qualify for the Olympics.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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