The Washington Spirit have 11 players away on national team duty, including seven USWNT players involved in last night’s 0-0 draw with the Czech Republic. Ten had games yesterday, including Trinity Rodman getting her first cap, while the an eleventh...well, things have gotten a little weird at the Algarve Cup. Let’s get into every single player’s status after the early set of games in this FIFA window:
Hatch was in uniform but did not play in that draw with the Czechs. With Catarina Macario playing the full 90 as the center forward, Hatch was one of six unused substitutes. Vlatko Andonovski has said multiple times that he will be rotating to avoid overloading any player at this stage of the preseason (or in Macario’s case, to not send her back to Lyon exhausted). As such, expect Hatch to see some time, and possibly get a start, against New Zealand this Sunday when the US takes on New Zealand at 3pm Eastern (again in Carson, CA).
Kerr, called in by Canada for the first time, was not in uniform as the Olympic gold medalists came back for a 1-1 draw with England in the Arnold Clark Cup (which is essentially England’s own SheBelieves Cup). Kailen Sheridan got the start, with veteran Sabrina D’Angelo backing her up.
Kerr will get two more chances to make her international debut during this FIFA window. Canada will take on Germany this Sunday at 3:15pm Eastern, and they finish the tournament by playing Spain next Wednesday at 11:30am. The Arnold Clark Cup is showing on Paramount+, so if you have your subscription for the NWSL season or other soccer reasons, you can tune in for this tournament as well.
Kingsbury was, like Hatch, in uniform but didn’t play against the Czechs. Andonovski instead went with Casey Murphy, who built on a couple of impressive showings late last year against Australia. It’s unclear whether the USWNT will cycle through goalkeepers in this competition or not, and if they do, whether that cycling will include Alyssa Naeher (who is still overcoming an injury from last season) or not.
We’ll find out more about Kingsbury’s status against New Zealand this weekend.
Starting at right back, O’Hara captained the USWNT for just the second time ever (with the previous time coming on the night of her 100th cap). O’Hara at one point got a nutmeg in the second half, and was often stationed very high up the field to stretch the Czech defense. That said, there were some moments where the familiarity among the group wasn’t particularly high going forward (not a surprise given the new-look squad featuring 22 players who are in the first days of their respective NWSL preseasons).
With O’Hara playing the full 90, it’s unclear whether she’ll be rotated out against New Zealand, or for the USWNT’s third game of the SheBelieves Cup (against Iceland next Wednesday). Sofia Huerta and Emily Sonnett are the other right back options in camp, though as we’ll get into momentarily, Sonnett is more likely to spend her time in this tournament playing on the left.
Roddar and Sweden were to play Denmark today at noon, but the Danes had to announce their withdrawal from the tournament due to four Covid-19 positive tests yesterday. The Algarve Cup rules dictate that this means a 3-0 forfeit win in Sweden’s favor.
It’s the second withdrawal from the Algarve Cup, as Australia pulled out of the tournament on February 8. Sweden has two more games on the schedule: a match against Portugal on Sunday at 12:15pm, and then either the tournament final or a 3rd place game on Wednesday.
Rodman made her senior USWNT debut, coming in on the hour mark for Mal Pugh and setting up on the left side of the front three. Eight minutes after coming on, Rodman was slipped through by Kristie Mewis, fought off a defender, but was denied by Barbora Votíková charging out to make a great save.
Rodman then nodded a cross from Emily Sonnett down at Votíková and was at the center of most of the American attacks in the final half hour as they pressed the issue looking for a win against a team largely content to set up in a low-block 442.
Given that Rodman brought some urgency to the US attack, and that she was able to be involved in an outsized proportion of their attacks ending in a serious threat, it stands to reason that she’ll see more time on Sunday.
Rodríguez was in uniform but didn’t see the field in a 9-0 win for Mexico over a Suriname side that hit the fatigue wall in the second half. With a quick turnaround, there’s a solid chance she’ll see the field in their game on Sunday, which is a 4pm kickoff against Antigua and Barbuda.
Sanchez checked in for her third cap in the 72nd minute, replacing Rose Lavelle as the team’s attacking midfielder after Lavelle took a knock in a challenge inside the Czech box.
Andonovski made an interesting choice with Sanchez, replacing Lavelle in terms of role but moving to play on the left side of the midfield triangle, with the left-footed Kristie Mewis (who nearly always plays left-of-center in a trio) moving to the right-center role on the other side of Andi Sullivan. That set Sanchez up with Rodman and Sonnett both on her side of the field, and the US seemed to be heading in the right direction by working play over to that group repeatedly in the late stages.
Given that Lavelle’s status isn’t clear — she didn’t appear to be badly injured, but we won’t know more until Saturday’s media availability — the New Zealand game might see Sanchez make her first US start.
Schneider was on the bench for the full 90, backing up Tottenham Hotspur ‘keeper Becky Spencer in Jamaica’s 4-0 win over Bermuda. Spencer, a former England youth national team player with over 60 pro appearances, accepted the call from Jamaica last summer, and may be the team’s top choice for the time being.
Schneider will push for a start in their next game, with the Reggae Girlz going to Grenada for another Group C qualifier on Sunday, with kickoff set for 4:00pm.
Sonnett came in for Emily Fox at left back at halftime, immediately getting involved with a dangerous ball into the goalmouth. Moments later, she was probably fortunate to avoid being called for a handball in the US end after the ball caromed up and against her outstretched hand.
Not for the first time, Sonnett drifted inside from the left, often creating an overload centrally that allowed her Spirit teammate Sanchez to move out to the touchline. That created a different set of angles between a trio of club teammates that the US was close to exploiting.
Andonovski’s rotation plans aren’t clear, but it stands to reason that Sonnett has a strong chance of starting on Sunday just based on the need to spread minutes around.
Sullivan — who had at least one big fan in the stands — started where you’d expect her to start these days, at the base of the midfield triangle. She saw plenty of the ball due to how the Czechs set themselves up, often having to fend off their forwards when they checked back to pressure the ball during the long spells of US possession. She floated a free header at the back post just barely over the bar on a US corner in the 30th minute, and getting that open on US set pieces has become a recurring theme for the Spirit captain (who scored her first two international goals attacking the near post).
With Sullivan playing 90 minutes and Andonovski needing to make sure no one picks up an injury, there’s a distinct chance that Sullivan is rotated out (possibly for Jaelin Howell) against the Ferns on Sunday.