The 2015 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Saturday, June 6 in Canada. The United States team is one of a handful of favorites to win the tournament and they’ve got a great story. Despite decades of excellent play, the team has not won a World Cup championship since 1999. That’s a whole generation of dreams denied and all the reason anyone should need to root for the team this year. To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.
National team experience: 123 appearances, this will be her second World Cup, and she has 29 international goals.
What to expect from Amy Rodriguez: Amy Rodriguez is the forgotten striker. At 28 years of age, she has played her whole career in the shadow of Abby Wambach, seven years older and, more to the point, the most prolific goal scorer in soccer history. She’s also not one of the new generation of strikers who are vying to inherit Wambach’s position: Alex Morgan, 25 years old, Sydney Leroux, 25, and Christen Press, 26. Caught between a rock (clearly Wambach) and three hard-charging pebbles, it’s easy to forget that Rodriguez started all but one of the games in the last World Cup. By the end of this World Cup, if things break right for Rodriguez, she might be much, much easier to remember. If Wambach shows any signs of age, if Morgan can’t get on the field because of her knee injury, and if Leroux or Press show any signs of immaturity, Rodriguez will be there to cooly do her thing. What is her thing? Rodriguez is a powerful player whose strength and low center of gravity help her excel in the crowded, chaotic areas of the field. She is often able to get to passes you think she shouldn’t be able to by throwing a shoulder into a larger defender as she runs by them. Once she has the ball, it’s very hard for the other team to get it back. She scores many of her goals by knocking a shot in from up close or by placing it over or around the goalie from afar. You don’t often see her smash the ball, her outside shots are surprisingly delicate for such a bullish on the ball player. It remains to be seen how much playing time Rodriguez gets but I would expect her to make the most of whatever time she does get.
Video: Pay close attention to Rodriguez’ physical play and technical outside shooting
Non-gendered personal interest item: As befits her low profile, there isn’t much out there about Rodriguez that isn’t about her “surprise pregnancy” or returning to play after giving birth. Way to gendered for this section. Instead, here’s a bonus video of her scoring five goals in a single match. In case you were wondering, that isn’t a record. The record is 13 (!!) scored by Australia’s Archie Thompson.