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Washington Spirit international round-up: Ashley Hatch strikes again for USWNT

The Golden Boot winner put up a goal and an assist, while Ashley Sanchez made the highlight reel on another busy day for the Spirit’s international contingent

Nikita Taparia

The Washington Spirit may be in Florida for preseason, but they have 11 players active in this international window. The USWNT called on four Spirit players in yesterday’s 5-0 win over New Zealand, while teams that called Washington players up won every game they played yesterday, outscoring their opponents 24-1.

Here’s how Sunday went for all eleven players:

Ashley Hatch

Hatch came in at halftime, and as is becoming customary now, she scored more or less immediately with the US, making it 4-0 in the 51st minute. In Hatch’s last three USWNT appearances, she scored 1st and 5th minute goals in two starts against Australia, and today’s goal took a whopping six minutes, as she headed home a cross from Sofia Huerta.

Beyond the goal, Hatch put in a typically industrious shift, dropping off the front line in transition to help spark a couple of breaks forward and covering a ton of ground, allowing the other forwards more room to move. The US finished the game with ten players — we’ll get to why a little further down — but Hatch’s activity rate kept them dangerous despite being alone in a 441 for that phase of the game.

That’s also when she ended up notching an assist, turning a 50/50 header at midfield into a through ball for Mal Pugh to steer past Erin Nayler in the third minute of stoppage time.

Hatch and the rest of the USWNT wrap up the SheBelieves Cup Wednesday night, as they face Iceland in Frisco, TX. That game kicks off at 9pm on ESPN2. The US will win the SheBelieves Cup only if they beat Iceland, who have won both of their games so far in the tournament.

Devon Kerr

Kerr was not in uniform as Canada beat Germany 1-0 in their second game at the Arnold Clark Cup. Based on her social media, it looks like she got hit in the eye pretty hard during training with Canada, and it stands to reason that this might be keeping her off the field during this first window with the team.

Hopefully she heals up enough from that for Canada’s final game in the tournament, as they take on Spain this Wednesday at 11:30am Eastern. That game will be on Paramount+.

Aubrey Kingsbury

Kingsbury was in uniform but didn’t play against New Zealand, with Alyssa Naeher going the full 90 in goal. It’s not clear at this point whether Vlatko Andonovski wants to give one game to each of the three goalkeepers in camp or not, but if he’s going to, it would mean a start for the 2021 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year against Iceland on Wednesday.

Kelley O’Hara

As Andonovski hinted after the last game, O’Hara didn’t play against the Football Ferns. After going the full 90, she was in uniform but didn’t enter the match, as Huerta played the entire game at right back. Given how well Huerta played going forward, there’s a potentially interesting decision to be had on Wednesday night, though O’Hara is still very likely first choice.

Julia Roddar

Roddar came on for the final 10 minutes of Sweden’s 4-0 rout of Portugal at the Algarve Cup, replacing Filippa Angeldal. I wish I had more to say about this one, but either it was unavailable to stream, or I am a dummy who didn’t figure out how to do so.

After having one game awarded as a forfeit and winning yesterday, Sweden is in the Algarve Cup final. They’ll play Italy on Wednesday in a game that kicks off at 6am Eastern.

Trinity Rodman

Rodman came on in the 55th minute, replacing Midge Purce. While she started out on the right side, most of her time came on the left after swapping flanks with Lynn Williams.

Unfortunately, the story of Rodman’s game wasn’t taking an inordinate amount of shots like against the Czechs, but rather multiple tough collisions that required treatment. First, she was kicked in the ankle off the ball by Ria Percival, though from that incident she seemed able to carry on after some treatment without being hampered.

The second, we’ll let the gif tell the story:

This was right near the US bench, and the training staff quickly moved her off to check her out. Pretty much immediately, it seemed like the US — who had used all their substitutions — decided to finish the game with 10 rather than put Rodman back out there.

That said, the end of the broadcast caught Rodman smiling on the touchline, and the post-game press conference tempered some of the worry in terms of a longer-term problem. “I wouldn’t say I’m concerned, because it seems like it’s not something serious,” said Andonovski. “We’re evaluating her right after the game and hoping that she’ll be back for the third game.”

Karina Rodríguez

Rodríguez picked up her sixth cap for Mexico in an 8-0 win over Antigua and Barbuda, entering at halftime and playing left-center back. As the scoreline tells you, she didn’t have a lot of defending to do, with much of her time spent cycling possession at midfield.

Mexico sits in first place in Group A of the CONCACAF W Championship qualification process, but only on goal difference. Their +17 is four goals clear of Puerto Rico, who are +13 after two similarly large wins in the group. Mexico will next face Anguilla on April 9, and then conclude the group against Puerto Rico in what at this point looks like a one-game playoff to reach the final round of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying process.

Ashley Sanchez

Sanchez started as the USWNT’s attacking midfielder, playing 67 minutes in a trio with Andi Sullivan and Kristie Mewis. First up, here’s Andonovski from his post-game press conference:

“Ashley Sanchez, I felt like today, she gave us what we needed... She was able to turn in the pocket, she was able to eliminate the first press, she was able to eliminate the first defender, and take us into the into the next zone,” said Andonovski. “She was the one that actually broke lines on the dribble, penetrate on the dribble, and pass the ball [into] the next zone. Very happy with her performance.”

So Sanchez made her first start for the national team and impressed the coach, but she also made some typical highlight-reel plays, including one that I’m going to step aside for a second and let André Carlisle tell you all about:

The soaring meteor that is Trinity Rodman may have at times overshadowed the growth of one of women’s soccer’s most audacious players. Ashley Sanchez was drafted by the Washington Spirit the year prior to Rodman, and all she’s done since is nutmeg Julie Ertz in her first 49 minutes as a professional, deliver a wild scorpion kick assist, score an unreal game winner in last season’s semifinal round, and, now, this while on international duty.

In real-time the move happened so fast that it was hard to process, and we all knew we would need several replays to know exactly what happened. God bless GIFs. It’s hard to list what I like most: there’s the absolute audacity of attempting this with complete assuredness; there’s the fact that Sanchez was shoved off balance just a second before and conjured the move between the shove and her second touch; the perfect choreography between limbs and the ball; and did I mention the absolute audacity?

The dexterity, balance and footwork required to remain in control while spinning and rolling the ball away is incredible on its own with no other touches. But Sanchez rolls her foot over the ball then beneath it, flipping it up to give her enough time to reorient her back leg to push off and accelerate into space with full control. It’s four separate perfect and necessary touches split evenly between right and left, all within a blink.

However, it was so audacious and mind-bending that it broke the linesperson and referee’s brains, so they ceded possession to New Zealand, and we’ll never know how it would have ended. On one hand, it’s understandable. They leaned on their understanding of the laws of our natural world and came to a logical conclusion that the ball must’ve rolled out of play. Unfortunately now, if the afterlife is real and we get to meet the Supreme Being after this journey, ‘What would’ve happened after this Sanchez madness?’ now sits somewhere not far below ‘What’s the meaning of life?’ and ‘How not OK were you when you created the anglerfish?’ as the most common questions asked. For now though, the better news is that Sanchez will certainly have more opportunities to introduce her particular brand of audaciousness to broader audiences, making them believers.

Sydney Schneider

Schneider started in goal for Jamaica in a 6-1 win at Grenada after not playing their first game in this window. She only faced two shots on the day, but doesn’t shoulder much blame on Grenada’s goal, which came with Jamaica having pushed nearly everyone forward. Roneisha Frank faked her way past a lone Jamaican defender inside the box to fire home from around 13 yards out.

The victory sees Jamaica tied on six points atop the Group C standings in CONCACAF W Championship qualifying, but they’re behind the Dominican Republic (who beat Grenada 9-0 this past Thursday) on goal difference. They will face the Cayman Islands on April 9, before a clash against the Dominican Republic on April 12 that is on course to be a winner-take-all game with a spot in the next round on the line.

Emily Sonnett

Sonnett was in uniform but didn’t play in the USWNT’s win. Andonovski opted to give Huerta and Emily Fox the full 90 minutes in the fullback roles, and also had Alana Cook play 90 at center back. It stands to reason that with the US emphasizing the need to rotate and not overload any players at the moment, Sonnett can be expected to start against Iceland. Left back seems like the most likely spot for her, but a move into the middle could also be in the cards.

Andi Sullivan

Sullivan started and played the first 55 minutes at defensive midfield before making way for Jaelin Howell. Sullivan, Sanchez, and Kristie Mewis played more fluidly as a triangle than we saw from the starting midfield in game one, with Mewis dropping alongside Sullivan and Sanchez often taking up a true attacking midfield spot higher up (a look similar to how the Spirit tended to set up positionally down the stretch last season).

On their play as a group, Andonovski said he saw “very good moments in the first half, and then I think we started figuring out in the second half a little bit more in terms of creating good angles and passing options for our two center backs.”

Based on what the team has said in terms of load management, there’s a distinct chance that Howell and Sullivan (who has played 145 minutes in two games, second only to Alana Cook in this tournament) swap spots in the starting lineup to face Iceland.