A-Rod returns to USWNT on her home field in Utah
Rodriguez entered in the 76th minute

Sandy, Utah — Amy Rodriguez is back with the U.S. women’s national team.

The Utah Royals FC forward entered in the game in the 76th minute and played the final 14 minutes of the USWNT’s 1-0 win over China PR at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday night. It was her first appearance since April 2017, shortly before she tore her ACL.

“It was everything I remembered, but meant so much more. I think because of the uphill battle I faced the last year with the injury. It’s never easy to come back. You never know what kind of player you’re going to return to be, or if you’re ever going to be as good as you once were. So, I put a lot of tears, lot of sweat in this. Just happy to be back on the field tonight,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez missed nearly all of 2017 with the knee injury after missing all of 2016 due to the birth of her son.

“It’s remarkable just in terms of how well she’s come back. I know the work she’s put in and I know being a parent to do that with two young boys is just exceptional. I think in terms of just A-Rod and her commitment, her mindset is fantastic,” United States head coach Jill Ellis said. “Still has the same qualities in terms of her ability to turn players and willingness to run at players. Just a great human being and great for team chemistry as well.”

Rodriguez took the field in her familiar No. 8 jersey, with Red Stars midfielder Julie Ertz shifting to wear the No. 2. She also stepped back in action for the United States in a familiar spot, the same field where she plays her NWSL games with Utah, and entered to loud cheers in the second half.

“It was kind of a unique experience. Obviously, I play at this field every weekend, almost. It felt like home, a little bit, and that’s always nice to play in front of your home crowd. Definitely a lot of fans cheering my name tonight. That felt really good. Just wanted to put on a good show for the fans and hopefully they all had a good time,” Rodriguez said.

“Absolutely buzzing,” Utah Royals FC coach Laura Harvey posted on Twitter of Rodriguez’s return.

Rodriguez made her 2018 NWSL debut on April 14 at Rio Tinto Stadium and has a goal and an assist in seven appearances so far this season. She’s worked back slowly into the team and finally played the full 90 minutes on May 25 before being called in and having the United States team join her in Utah.

“I just think it’s phenomenal what she’s been able to withstand and endure and come back from,” Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe said after the game. “She still has that same spark in her step. Still as quick as ever.”

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