One year ago, Amy Rodriguez (Arod) was on top of the world, staking her place in sports history as the first ever draft pick of the fledgling Women’s Pro Soccer league.
Adding to the excitement was the chance to play for Boston Breakers legendary head coach Tony DiCicco, the former U.S. Women’s National Team Manager who had mentored the likes of Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly, and Tiffeny Milbrett, just to name a few.
DiCicco had guided that Women’s National Team to the 1995 Women's World Cup, the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal, and the 1999 Women's World Cup Championship.
From Arod’s standpoint, it was a dream come true; after all, she was the player Boston had selected to build the franchise around.
So what happened?
Somewhere between her selection in the 2009 draft and the end of the 2009 season, the magic that had made her the league's No. 1 overall pick had vanished.
Arod’s playing time during her rookie season was limited to say the least, as this energetic bundle of talent was under utilized: 17 matches, 11 starts, 982 minutes, and just one goal scored.
Certainly not what Boston Breaker fans were expecting. The problem, however, was not her tools but her carpenter, Tony DiCicco. You see, DiCicco has also made a name for himself as one of the top goalkeeper coaches in the world.
The problem with keeper coaches, like myself, is that sometimes we are defensive minded to a fault and that may have contributed to the problem. Rodriguez believes that under the Boston system of play, her playing style was stifled.
Remember, Amy is a striker by nature and her main thought is to put that Puma ball into the back of the net. She finished her career at the University of California ranked fourth all-time in goals (31) and points (79).
Over the last fours in the U.S. Women’s National team pool, Amy beat the keeper 17 times in 56 appearances. Scoring is something she definitely knows how to do.
So the Boston experience lasted just one season and on September 29, 2009, Rodriguez was traded to the expansion Philadelphia Independence, along with the Breakers first round pick in the 2010 WPS draft. In exchange, Philadelphia sent Boston their two first round selections.
The entire situation has been a learning process for Arod, who now believes she is where she belongs. She's getting a second chance to make a first impression and, trust me, with Independence coach Paul Riley’s attacking style of play, Rodriguez should get plenty of opportunities.
By the way, Arod will get a chance to face her old team Sunday, April 18, when Philadelphia visits Harvard Stadium to play the Breakers.