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Trinity Rodman’s playmaking helps Spirit beat Royals – Equalizer Soccer

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Trinity Rodman

It’s hard to talk about the Washington Spirit without focusing on Trinity Rodman. The dynamic 21-year-old, who plays as a right forward for both the Spirit and the U.S. women’s national team, has historically contributed to her teams most profoundly with her speed and scoring. But her greatest endowment to the Spirit so far in 2024 has been through her playmaking. Sunday’s match between the Spirit and the recently-rebooted Utah Royals, which resulted in a 2-1 victory for Washington, featured a successful assist from Rodman, as well as numerous attempted ones and dynamic ball movement throughout the full ninety. 

The Spirit dominated the first half of Sunday’s match, but the Royals did hand them a true test towards the end. Utah struggled to generate consistent offensive chances in the first half, whereas the Spirit were able to convert two goals. The first goal, a penalty kick, was taken by Andi Sullivan in the 21st minute, filling in for Ashley Hatch, who normally steps up to the task but was ruled out of Sunday’s game for a hip injury. The second goal, a header scored by Ouleymata Sarr in the 30th minute, was assisted by none other than Rodman. The assist marked Rodman’s 17th as a member of the Spirit, making her Washington’s all-time leader in assists. 


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Though the goal in the 30th minute would be the last the Spirit would score for the day, it was enough to help them maintain the lead. Furthermore, it was the second of six total attempts on Sunday by Rodman and Sarr to team up together for a goal, rotating roles of striker and assist-er. The Royals conjured up offensive energy in the second half, which resulted in a goal in the 71st minute by rookie and No. 1 draft pick Ally Sentnor. They also fired off a handful of other offensive attempts which were stymied by defensive prowess from goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury. The Royals by no means allowed the Spirit to collect an easy victory; these second-half challenges required Rodman to continue doing what she does best – not only generating scoring chances, but also using the middle of the field to create plays for her teammates, and recovering on defense as well. During a halftime broadcast, Rodman stated that she “likes to be unpredictable,” and this preference of hers was on display all day Sunday as she utilized the length of the field to help her teammates and put them in scoring positions. 

The Spirit sit in fourth place in the NWSL table and will look to Rodman to generate more scoring opportunities as they take on their next opponents, the Houston Dash, on April 12. Spirit interim coach Adrian Gonzalez will surely continue relying on Rodman to be a dynamic hybrid of right winger and full back. In the match’s post-game conference, coach Gonzalez lauded Rodman for having “lots of potential” and recognized how often her teammates were able to find her as she ran up and down the field. But on the national team level, might incoming coach Emma Hayes spot Rodman’s potential to be a full back? Rodman emulates national team full back Crystal Dunn in her ability to both attack and recover, and she could easily slot into the spot Kelley O’Hara will leave behind on the national team when her international career begins to wind down. Additionally, with the return of Mallory Swanson and Catarina Macario and the emergence of youth talents Jaedyn Shaw and Alyssa Thompson, the USWNT’s front line is getting a little crowded. For club, Rodman belongs where she stands, but for country, perhaps Hayes can help her reach her full potential.  


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North Carolina Courage’s Brianna Pinto embracing new role in 2024 – Equalizer Soccer

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Gotham FC's Delanie Sheehan battles for a ball with North Carolina Courage's Brianna Pinto


Photo Copyright Rob Kinnan for USA TODAY Sports

CARY, N.C. — When the North Carolina Courage lined up for their opening match of the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League season, an interesting name filled the central striker’s role at kickoff: Brianna Pinto.

The 23-year-old had previously been a midfielder while a member of the Courage, albeit a versatile player who had been used in both defensive and attacking roles. But with North Carolina’s leading scorer from 2023 Kerolin sidelined with a torn ACL for the time being, as well as head coach Sean Nahas having a surplus of midfielders and a track history of playing players in various roles on the field, Pinto got the call as the No. 9, a move that paid immediate dividends.

Pinto drew a penalty to open the scoring in the season opener, a 5-1 romp over the Houston Dash, and notched her second start of the season back at WakeMed Soccer Park on March 30, with her first goal of 2024 in a gritty 1-0 win over Gotham FC.

“I think just being in a new role is obviously a learning moment. But I love playing the No. 9 just because I’m close to goal and there’s nothing more special than getting to score,” Pinto told reporters in the postgame press conference after the win over Gotham.

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Star in the making – Equalizer Soccer

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Emeri Adames stands with her arms folded and a massive smile on her face. She is posing in front of gold drapery in the Reign's dark blue home kit with gold accents.


Photo Copyright Jane Gershovich for Seattle Reign FC

SEATTLE — As calendars turned to December, Emeri Adames was graduating high school and preparing for life playing college soccer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Dallas, Texas, native was not planning on going pro. She had committed to a Tarheels program that is consistently one of the best in the nation as one of the nation’s top recruits.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Seattle Reign came calling. Discussions began in late December and an invite to preseason soon followed. Adames still wasn’t set on going pro but, time training with the Reign changed everything.

“It was definitely a really hard decision. I have so much respect for UNC coaches, and I have such a good connection with them still, I talked to them. But it was just mainly this team,” Adames told The Equalizer.

It has been Adames’ goal ever since she was young to go pro but she didn’t think it would happen so soon.

“It wasn’t like I was just trying to go pro just to go pro,” Adames said. “I found my place and I found a great team that would support me and the staff that really wanted me to grow as a player and I saw their visions for me. And so I talked to my family and we had a lot of conversations and that’s what led me to this decision.”

The Reign were just as excited to sign Adames as she was to join the team. Speaking after Adames’ NWSL debut, in the regular season opener, head coach Laura Harvey admitted that “honestly, within two days [of preseason] I was like ‘we need to sign this kid, she is special.’”

Harvey was almost gleeful talking about Adames, forewarning media “You wait, this kid’s unbelievable.”

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What to keep and what to change from the SheBelieves Cup – Equalizer Soccer

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The USWNT celebrates winning the SheBelieves Cup


Photo Copyright The Columbus Dispatch

On Tuesday night, the United States won its seventh SheBelieves Cup in nine years. This victory was secured in thrilling fashion – a full-time draw led to penalty kicks and featured goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher not only saving shots but also burying one of her own. But, as the post-match excitement died down, fans and followers immediately honed in on the predictable follow-up question to an international tournament: what could this mean for the Olympics? 

In short, a lot! This tournament saw some predictably solid play from Olympic roster shoo-ins like Lindsay Horan, whose abilities to consistently generate plays, draw fouls, and score goals looked as reliable as ever. Mallory Swanson returned from injury to the international stage for the first time in a year and has never looked faster or more eager for a goal. And joining her up front were Jaedyn Shaw and Sophia Smith, who more than earned their keep with goals throughout the tournament. 

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