What Is This USWNT Player’s Deal: Trinity Rodman
12:48 PM EDT on June 9, 2023
Welcome to What Is This USWNT Player's Deal, a recurring series in which Defector selects a name from the American players most likely to go to the Women's World Cup this summer and answers the question: What is this USWNT player’s deal?
Let's just get it out of the way: Yes, Trinity Rodman is Dennis Rodman's daughter. No, the two have never had much of a relationship. As detailed in an ESPN profile from last year, Trinity's mother, Michelle, divorced Dennis when Trinity was a toddler. Trinity's childhood was not easy: At one point she spent a whole year living in a motel room with her mother, her brother DJ, and her older sister Teyana. Trinity started playing on for an elite club team called the SoCal Blues at age 10, which she was only able to do because her coach paid the thousands of dollars in dues and fees every year. Let's also get this out of the way: Trinity Rodman is on her way to becoming a household name not just because she has a famous father and a backstory fit for a sports movie. She's becoming one of the most famous soccer players in the country because she's really, really good.
Rodman was supposed to play college soccer at Washington State, but left the program without ever stepping on the field after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out what would have been her freshman season. She decided to go pro, and as an 18-year-old she was drafted second overall by the Washington Spirit in the 2021 NWSL draft. She made her first appearance as a sub, and scored after being on the field for just five minutes. She went on to start 22 games across all competitions for the Spirit that year, scoring seven goals and tallying seven assists.
Rodman managed to more or less avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, too. In 2022 she finished with four goals and two assists in 18 league appearances, and added four goals and three assists in eight SheBelieves Cup games. So far this year, she's been similarly prolific, already having accumulated four goals and two assists in the first 10 games of the season. What all this adds up to is a player who entered the NWSL as a teenager, immediately became one of the best and most productive players in the league, and then stayed that way. That's how you end up signing the richest deal in NWSL history and earning a national team call-up by the age of 20.
Who Does She Play For?
Rodman plays for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, and based on the size of the aforementioned contract she signed last February, the franchise is ready to build itself around her. And why wouldn't they? Rodman helped lead the Spirit to a NWSL title in her rookie season, and after a nightmare 2022 season in which the Spirit only won three games and finished in 11th place, she has them firing again in 2023. They're currently third in the table, just two points behind the league-leading Portland Thorns.
The Lindsey Horan Magnifique Test refers to the following foolproof heuristic for determining whether or not a U.S. player is actually good or just good by our rosy American standards: Do fans tweet lovingly about them in their local language?
How Does She Play?
Rodman does everything you could possibly want a forward to do. She can play across the front line, she's a fast and direct runner, she's a technically gifted dribbler who can carry the ball, and she can put away chances when they come to her. But the thing that really sets her apart is her passing.
Rodman creates a ton of chances for her teammates whenever she plays, and in a variety of ways. It's easy for a strong and fast winger to get addicted to one particular move—sprinting into the channel so that they can either boom a cross into the box or drive all the way to the endline and cut one back—but Rodman has too much creativity and, perhaps more importantly, audacity to make her living in such a boring way. If there's one sequence that best sums up Rodman as a player, it might be this one from a game against the Dash last season:
Rodman begins the play by dropping deep to win the ball, plays a daring backheel into the space behind her, immediately bombs into the open channel in front of her, collects the return pass, plays a perfectly weighted first-touch through ball into the box, and gifts Ashley Hatch a tap-in. There it all is: everything you want from a forward, stuffed into about 10 seconds.
It's that assuredness to play a pass, immediately and without hesitation, that makes Rodman such a great facilitator. Getting the ball into dangerous areas requires physical and technical ability, of course, but the best chances are created by players who know what pass they are going to play a half-second before anyone else on the field does. That's how you catch defenders flat-footed, and fit balls into windows that are just a moment's hesitation away from slamming shut. These are the types of passes that require not just a deft touch and a big soccer brain, but an ability to play without pause:
She can do this of stuff in close quarters, too:
The Parental Recognition Index
The Parental Recognition Index is a holistic, objective metric that analyzes a player’s full array of skills and talents, distilling it all into a single number that corresponds to their ultimate potential and the likelihood that they will become a big enough star at the World Cup that one of your parents will send you a text message about them.
There are going to be so many damn pregame and halftime segments about Trinity Rodman stuffed into this World Cup broadcast. You're gonna see photos of her playing as a kid on the screen while soft piano music tinkles in the background; you're gonna hear all about the weight that Rodman's last name has put on her; you will see her mother sitting in a chair, crying, talking about how proud she is of her daughter. There is a 100 percent chance that your mother and father will text, "Did u know Dennis Rodman's daughter is on the team ... check out intvw from GMA this morn," almost as soon as the group stage starts.
Show To Me A Cool Highlight
I already showed you a bunch of highlights of Rodman making cool passes, so here's one showing off her ability as a scorer:
How Does She Fit In With The U.S. Team?
Rodman's versatility is key here. She can play on either side of a central striker, and her ability to do so many things well should allow her to fit into any tactical structure that Vlatko Andonovski wants to build. If he wants one of his wingers to tuck in and play as a more central playmaker, Rodman can do that. If he needs one to stay out wide and look to play balls in from the channel, she can also do that. And if he wants someone to make outside-in runs to try and get on the end of direct passes into the box, she's got the timing and running ability to fill that need, too.
How Close Is She To The Hypothetical Best XI?
Normally you wouldn't give a 21-year-old much of a chance to break into the starting lineup of a team that is always overloaded with attacking talent. You can be one of the best forwards in the world and only ever crack the USWNT as a sub, simply because there are so many other great players ahead of you in the pecking order. There are a few things working in Rodman's favor, though. There's her versatility and consistency, and also the fact that a big hole in the USWNT forward line opened up when Mallory Swanson tore her patellar tendon. Andonovski has a real decision to make about who is going to soak up the minutes Swanson left behind, and Rodman, despite her youth, has to be in the mix.