The U.S. Women's National Team opened the 2022 SheBelieves Cup with a 0-0 draw against the Czech Republic on Thursday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Iceland defeated New Zealand 1-0 earlier in the evening and sit atop the SheBelieves Cup standings.
Thursday's match between the USWNT and Czech Republic was just the second meeting ever between the two teams. The Americans last played, and defeated, the Czech Republic 8-1 on Jan. 7 2000.
The USWNT is looking to win the SheBelieves Cup for the third straight year. However, many of the team's veteran players are sitting out the tournament for various reasons, and it won't be easy to win with a young squad.
Players like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Sam Mewis were left off the USWNT's SheBelieves Cup roster. Their scoring touch was desperately needed on Thursday.
The U.S. opened the first half dominating possession, but was unable to score on a number of opportunities before heading to the locker room. The team took 10 total shots in the first half, only three of which were on target.
Much of the Americans difficulties up front could be attributed to the Czech Republic's great defensive play throughout the half. And while the combination of Catarina Macario and Rose Lavelle was fun to watch, The Equalizer's Jeff Kassouf noted many of the other starters weren't on the same level.
Jeff Kassouf @JeffKassouf
HALF: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USWNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USWNT</a> 0, Czech Republic 0<br><br>Catarina Macario looks a couple gears ahead of most others, and her combination play with Rose Lavelle has been an entertaining pairing. Not enough movement around them playmaking from deeper areas, though. Czechs look mostly comfortable.
The USWNT opened up the second half similarly. The American women had several chances to score, but couldn't beat Czech goaltender Barbora Votikova, who was incredible throughout Thursday's game.
Amid the team's struggles, U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski decided to switch things up, subbing in Kristie Mewis, Midge Purce, Emily Sonnett, Becky Sauerbrunn, Ashley Sanchez and rising star Trinity Rodman, who made her national team debut.
TUDN USA @TUDNUSA
🔥🙌⚽🇺🇸 Trinity Rodman, hija del ex basquetbolista Dennis Rodman, debuta con <a href="https://twitter.com/USWNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USWNT</a> <br><br>📲🔴 ¡En vivo! <a href="https://t.co/Z00dhdsxvQ">https://t.co/Z00dhdsxvQ</a> <br><br>📺 TUDN <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SheBelievesCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SheBelievesCup</a> <a href="https://t.co/ECshjZnhGT">pic.twitter.com/ECshjZnhGT</a>
Rodman had several solid looks on goal in the second half, but was unable to cash in. Regardless it was an impressive debut for the 19-year-old and NWSL Rookie of the Year.
However, it was a disappointing result overall for the Americans, and possibly a byproduct of the glaring absences of the team's veterans and the lack of playing time the young players have received over the years.
With those older players continuing to get up there in age, it's important to give the younger players a chance to work at the national level, regardless of the result. As ESPN analyst Julie Foudy said at the end of Thursday's game, the most important thing the USWNT wants out of this tournament is experience.
The USWNT will host New Zealand at Dignity Health Sports Park on Feb. 20 before taking on Iceland on Feb. 23 at Toyota Stadium in Texas.