Czech goalkeeper Barbora Votíková thwarted the USA again and again. (Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)
CARSON, Calif. – The U.S. women’s national team opened the year with a scoreless draw against the Czech Republic at Dignity Health Sports Park at the SheBelieves Cup.
The result extended the Americans’ unbeaten streak at home to 63 matches.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Dagny Brynjarsdottir scored in the opening 48 seconds and Iceland held on to defeat New Zealand 1-0. It was the fastest goal in tournament history.
The nightcap pit the top-ranked women’s team in the world – the USA – vs. No. 24 Czech Republic.
With some of the national team’s more recognizable stars — Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Christen Press and Tobin Heath — left off the roster, head coach Vlatko Andonovski used a lineup to evaluate young prospects.
The average age of the Starting XI was 25.5, the youngest since April 2018. Five starters had fewer than 15 appearances with the team. Goalkeeper Casey Murphy played in just her third game.
“I’m happy with where they’re at right now,” Andonovski said. “But we all know that how we look and where we’re at is nowhere near enough to win big games.”
The USA pressed in the attack early, creating several dangerous chances in the opening 10 minutes of the match. That included a third-minute cross from Mallory Pugh that caught goalkeeper Barbora Votíková off guard. But she was able to push it off the crossbar before it was cleared out.
The hosts continued to dominate the first half, outshooting the visitors, 10-1, as forward Catarina Macario and midfielder Rose Lavelle posing a threat with their connections. Lavelle, the player of the match, many times broke down the Czech defense with her dribbling and passing. She had several of the USA’s best scoring chances.
Votíková put on a strong performance, recording eight saves and snaring a cross. The Americans did well to get into dangerous areas on the field and put together some fluid attacking sequences. Tough Czech defending, a lack of quality on services into the box and saves from Votíková thwarted the U.S.
The Americans outshot the Czechs, 18-6, finishing with eight shots on target compared to one for the Czechs.
The first of two milestone substitutions on the night came in the 61st minute as forward Trinity Rodman replaced Pugh. At 19-years-old, Rodman became the first teenager to earn a cap for the USWNT since Tierna Davidson in 2018. She also was the fourth teenager to be capped since 2010, joining Lindsey Horan, Pugh and Davidson. Rodman was also the 11th player to earn a cap under head coach Vlatko Andonovski and the seventh player to debut for the USA in its last three games (five on Nov. 27 vs. Australia, one on Nov. 30 vs. Australia and one tonight vs. Czech Republic).
Rodman, 19, the daughter of former NBA star Dennis Rodman, is a member of the NWSL champion Washington Spirit. She reportedly signed a four-year contract for a reported $1.1 million, making her the highest-paid player in the National Women’s Soccer League.
“Obviously we all know Trinity is a good player and I thought she was dangerous when she came in, got a couple of good opportunities and was threatening the backline of Czech Republic. And that was exciting to see her there,” Andonovski said.
In the 72nd minute, defender Becky Sauerbrunn subbed for Davidson to make her 200th USWNT appearance. That made her the 12th player in USWNT history to reach that milestone.
“It’s just about the journey, and the journey has been wild and it’s been tough, but it has been so rewarding,” Sauerbrunn said. “And I feel very, truly fortunate that I’ve gotten to represent this team and this program 200 times.”
The competition resumes with another doubleheader at Dignity Health Sports Park. The USA will play against New Zealand (3 p.m., ET on ABC, PrendeTV), while the Czech Republic will face Iceland (6 p.m. ET on ESPN3).
The tournament concludes on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, with New Zealand taking on the Czech Republic (6 p.m. ET on ESPN3) and the USA facing Iceland in the nightcap (p p.m. ET on ESPN2 and PrendeTV).