When the United States women’s national team released its roster for the upcoming SheBelieves Cup on Thursday, Trinity Rodman was listed only as a training player.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s decision raised questions, considering the 2021 NWSL Rookie of the Year was fresh off of a breakout season and had signed a four-year, $1.1 million contract with the Washington Spirit the day before — the richest deal in NWSL history.
“First, I want to say she did well in camp,” Andonovski said on Wednesday. “She was very competitive, her mindset fits well in it. But I want to say for her, she’s looking really good in the league, but the national team is a completely different animal and we don’t want to put her out.”
Squad ready ≫ https://t.co/jAf7XIBeiP #SheBelievesCup x @Visa https://t.co/Zf3G6uSvn5 pic.twitter.com/uDeAaWdgvl— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) February 3, 2022
Squad ready ≫ https://t.co/jAf7XIBeiP #SheBelievesCup x @Visa https://t.co/Zf3G6uSvn5 pic.twitter.com/uDeAaWdgvl
Rodman, 19, forewent college to enter the 2020 NWSL Draft, where the Spirit selected her at No. 2 overall. Leading the NWSL with seven assists and tied for sixth with seven goals, Rodman played a critical role in the Spirit’s nine-game, undefeated run to the 2021 NWSL championship. She often set the tone for the team with her pace and ability to turn games in their favor with a bullet off the crossbar or a fast dribble from end line to end line.
The season ended with Rodman’s star play in the championship game, when she lobbed the ball into the Chicago Red Stars’ box in overtime right to Kelley O’Hara, who headed in the game-winning goal.
“We want to give her a chance to slowly accommodate or adjust herself to the system, to the structure, to absorb information slowly step-by-step instead of throwing everything out,” Andonovski said of the USWNT environment. “That’s why anytime we have a chance to have her in camp where she can train and be around and adjust to it, we’re going to use that opportunity to do so.”
Six of Rodman’s Spirit teammates were named to the SheBelieves Cup roster, including Ashley Hatch, Ashley Sanchez, Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, Andi Sullivan and Aubrey Kingsbury.
O’Hara, Sonnett and Sullivan are seasoned USWNT veterans, while Hatch, Sanchez and Kingsbury have just six caps between them but have been invited to multiple senior national team camps. January camp marked Rodman’s first USWNT call-up after she declined her invitation to Australia in November for undisclosed reasons.
NEWS | Six Spirit Players Called Up to USWNT for SheBelieves Cup— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) February 3, 2022
NEWS | Six Spirit Players Called Up to USWNT for SheBelieves Cup
Andonovski has called first-time players into games before, with Bethany Balcer and Morgan Weaver each getting their first caps during the USWNT’s friendlies against Australia, despite Weaver having never been to a camp and Balcer only to one. He might not have been as willing to do that for an official tournament like the SheBelieves Cup, especially after Rodman didn’t get any game experience in Australia.
Rodman has the talent alone to become a core USWNT player, and the potential to be one of the most dominant players in the world. If her seamless transition from high school to the pros is any indication, she’s primed to seize the opportunity when she gets it.
Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.