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SAN JOSE, Calif. — United States women’s national team forward Trinity Rodman lauded the connection she has with teammate Sophia Smith for creating the critical breakthrough in a 2-0 friendly win over Wales, the USWNT’s final tuneup prior to the World Cup.

After a sluggish first half by the U.S., Rodman entered the match at halftime in place of Alex Morgan, and went on to score both goals.

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She was given specific instructions by U.S. manager Vlatko Andonovski to increase the team’s energy level, and she did that and more.

“I think Trinity came in and had a task to fulfill,” he said. “She was one of the players that went in but had a task to raise the pace and raise the tempo a little bit and we saw that changed dramatically.”

Rodman, the daughter of former NBA star Dennis Rodman, initially was deployed as a central striker but at times switched positions with Smith. The connection between the two was evident as Rodman went on to score two goals, the first of which was set up by Smith.

“I think Sophia did a really good job of recognizing,” Rodman said. “We switched, and I ended up going out wide, and she was in the middle, it opened a lot of space. She was stretching them, I was opening up. Again there was that space for her to run in behind, me to run in behind, and then we had that connection from there.”

Andonovski said he encourages his forwards to swap positions on the fly

“It just makes it a little more unpredictable and because of how they play, they play a lot by instinct as well,” he said. “They understand the game and use their instinct to find themselves in the game. They have the freedom to roll from one to another position to another.”

Rodman’s instincts were on display in the 87th minute, when she scored with a powerful finish to close out the game, although she initially thought the goal wouldn’t count.

“Well, I couldn’t hear anything, so I honestly thought they called a foul,” she said. “But I was like, ‘I’m going to finish it anyway,’ and obviously wrapped it around the defender, and it was kind of perfect, so I’m really happy about that.”

Rodman’s goals helped put a shine on a team performance that was uneven at times for the U.S., especially in the attacking third, where it ran up against an organized and disciplined Wales defense. But Andonovski said he’s feeling positive about the state of his team.

“We’re very confident about where we at right now,” he said. “We can see how the product is going to look, and when that happens it’s going to look good.”

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