The first step toward the future for the U.S. women’s national soccer team didn’t get off to a great start.
The U.S., starting a lineup with an average age of 25 ½ years old, the youngest age since 2018 and with five starters with fewer than 15 national team appearances, sputtered to a scoreless draw in Thursday’s SheBelieves Cup opener against the Czech Republic.
The four-team, round-robin tournament continues Sunday from Dignity Health Sports Park. The U.S. will open the day at noon against New Zealand (Ch. 7).
That lack of familiarity on the field proved to be a big factor.
“It doesn’t matter how good they are, how much potential they have,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “It’s not easy to just throw them on the field and expect it to click immediately and combine and do some creative things.”
Rose Lavelle took care of the creativity Thursday, pulling the strings from central midfield.
There were several chances on goal, but Czech Republic goalkeeper Barbora Votikova made eight saves.
“I’m happy with where they’re at,” Andonovski said. “But we all know that how we look and where we’re at is nowhere near enough to win big games.”
Fortunately for the U.S., there are still months before the World Cup and Olympic qualifying tournaments. It is likely by then some of the veterans will be called back to the roster, but the SheBelieves Cup is still a big moment for someone to step into a larger role.
Newport Beach native Trinity Rodman made her senior national team debut, coming on as a sub in the 60th minute. With each touch of the ball, a noticeable buzz started to build in the stadium.
“Obviously we all know Trinity is a good player and I thought she was dangerous when she came in,” Andonovski said. “Got a couple of good opportunities and was threatening the backline of Czech Republic. And that was exciting to see her there.
“I just think this is a first of many for her. She definitely needs more minutes, more caps, more games, and I have no doubt that she’s going to perform even better.”
After a 30-minute run Thursday, Rodman is in line for an increase in minutes against New Zealand, which could help the U.S. finally get on the scoreboard.
The Czech Republic (0-0-1, 1 point) and Iceland (1-0, 3 points), which edged New Zealand 1-0 on Thursday with a goal 48 seconds into their match, will wrap up Sunday’s doubleheader at 3 p.m. in Carson.
The teams will then travel to Frisco, Texas, for the final day of competition Wednesday. The Americans and Iceland square off at 6 p.m., following New Zealand vs. the Czech Republic at 3 p.m. At the end, the team with the most points will be crowned champion.
United States vs. New Zealand
When: Noon Sunday
Where: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson
TV: Ch. 7