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Trinity Rodman takes over: 3 things we learned from USWNT vs. Wales

In front of a sellout crowd at PayPal Park in San Jose, the USWNT battled to a 2-0 victory over Wales in their send-off match before the World Cup thanks to Trinity Rodman's brace off the bench.

The U.S. struggled to breakdown Wales' compact defensive structure in the opening 45 but Rodman's halftime introduction led to the opener in the 76th minute before the 21-year-old added a spectacular second in the 87th.

Ultimately, the USWNT heads to the World Cup having rattled off nine straight victories, including a perfect 8-0 record in 2023 in which they've outscored their opponents 19-1. 

They're clearly the favorites to three-peat in Australia and New Zealand, and here are three musings as we count down the days until the opening match against Vietnam on July 22. 

3 things we learned from USWNT vs. Wales

#1. The defense is set.

After captain Becky Sauerbrunn was ruled out of the tournament through injury, the U.S. debuted a new back four playing their first match together. It's the one that'll take the pitch against Vietnam with Crystal Dunn on the left, Emily Fox on the right and Naomi Girma and Alana Cook reforming a center back pairing from their college days at Stanford.

Girma is always impressive, and she frequently strode forward from the back in possession and played some good balls forward. Cook had one moment where she tried to nutmeg a Wales player in the U.S. box and it was almost a disaster, but otherwise the OL Reign defender was solid. 

Dunn and Fox provided the Americans with width going forward but were unable to pick a telling cross on the day. Most importantly, Alyssa Naeher didn't have a save to make.   

#2. The health of the midfield is a concern. 

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Rose Lavelle hasn't started a match since suffering an injury against Ireland on Apr. 8 before suffering a setback while with her club team. She remained on the bench, although medically cleared to play, and backup Ashley Sanchez was unable to make an impact during her 64 minutes on the pitch.

Julie Ertz was also held out with muscle fatigue and Andi Sullivan missed a couple opportunities in her stead.  

We got a first look at Savannah DeMelo and Kristie Mewis played the final 10 minutes, but a lot is clearly riding on the fitness of Lavelle and Ertz.  

#3. Alyssa Thompson in the starting lineup. 

It looks like Thompson is going to be Mallory Swanson's replacement in the starting XI after she was given 64 minutes before Lynn Williams took over. The 18-year-old had a couple electric runs but no end product, so a starting spot against Vietnam is still no guarantee.

Trinity Rodman is ultimately an option there, but she plays on the right wing at club level and replaced Alex Morgan (who had a very quiet 45 minutes) at striker today. Still, her impact was spectacular with the opening goal in the 76th minute off Sophia Smith's unselfish feed (Williams also provided great holdup play) before curling in an unstoppable second in the 87th.

The great thing about this U.S. attack is that there's no reason to ever panic. If the players picked to start don't deliver, their replacements probably will.

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