Amy Rodriguez: Olympic Dream Comes True
June 23, 2008
Already having helped power USC to a history-making women's soccer season, Trojan Amy Rodriguez is now officially lined up to stake another place for herself in the history books. Rodriguez becomes USC's first-ever Olympian in women's soccer, having been named to the roster for the gold-medal-favorite U.S. Women's Olympic Team bound for Beijing to compete in this summer's 2008 Olympic Games.
Returning to Troy as a senior in 2008, Rodriguez already has her foot firmly planted in the USC record books. Her first two-goal game in her Trojan career came in the NCAA semifinals, pushing USC past crosstown rival UCLA for a 2-1 win that propelled the Women of Troy into the 2007 NCAA Championship game and on to the program and the Pac-10's first-ever women's soccer national championship. Quickly called up to the full U.S. National Team training camps, Rodriguez followed suit and soon after punched in another two-goal performance for Team USA in a win over continental rival Canada.
Rodriguez opted to take the spring semester off from classes at USC in order to continue training and competing with Pia Sundhage's USA squad. The Trojan forward now has 18 caps and four goals with the full national team as she prepares for the world's premier athletic competition - the Olympic Games.
'I thought winning the national championship was good and a long shot. But to be named to the 2008 Olympic Team, that's even more of a long shot. I feel very lucky,' Rodriguez said. 'I was just honored to be considered and to come to camp. Pia didn't know me and had faith in me and invested in training me. Just to even get a look was awesome for me. I thought making the roster for the Olympic qualification tournament was a big step. Each camp I never knew if I'd be on the next roster and before I knew it she was naming the team for the Olympics.
'It was a huge sacrifice to take off school this semester, but now that I've made this team and improved my game so much, I feel like it's all paying off. It's really cool to see how much I can put into this game and what I'm getting out of it. I've gone from the best college team in the nation to the best national team in the world. It's a huge honor.'
An explosive and talented striker, 21-year-old Rodriguez is the second youngest member of the 18-player U.S. Olympic Team roster and one of only three forwards named to the team. Called up by Sundhage in late December 2007 as one of 27 players looking to make the 20-player roster for the Four Nations Cup in January 2008, Rodriguez remained a mainstay in the U.S. circuit throughout the road to Beijing. She went on to compete at the 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Qualification Tournament in Mexico, the Algarve Cup in Portugal and the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea.
Due to her busy travel schedule with the national team, Rodriguez - who scored the game-winning goal against Brazil for the USA in South Korea last week - was unable to join her USC teammates on their current trip to Washington D.C. to meet the President and be honored at the White House for their 2007 NCAA Championship. But her USC teammates still shared in the exciting news from across the country.
'It's so cool. It's like your dream as a kid and she's living that dream,' USC goalkeeper Kristin Olsen said. 'Amy's a huge part of our team and she really wanted to be here with us. We miss her here, but we know she puts so much effort into her college career and she earned that spot on the full team and we wish her all the best. We're all really proud of her.'
Before Sundhage brought her into the U.S. National Team camps this winter, Rodriguez had last competed with the full U.S. National Team at the 2006 Algarve Cup in Portugal, where she had three appearances to hold five caps at that time. After competing with the Under-20 team at the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championships, Rodriguez took 2007 off of the national team circuit to focus on her time at USC.
'My confidence grew a lot this year because of the success of the team,' Rodriguez said of her junior season at USC. 'I was really happy to be a part of a winning squad. They helped me to develop my game better, and I got seen at the Final Four. My passion for the sport really grew in this past year.'
'With the national team, I've kind of gone in as that super sub. I see my role now is to go in, pick up momentum if it's down, cause problems for the defense and create some energy for the team.'
This past season, her team-leading 10 goals along with three assists and three game-winners during USC's 2007 NCAA championship drive bumped Rodriguez up to rank No. 6 all-time in career points (59), No. 6 in career goals (23) and No. 4 in career game-winning goals (9).
'We are thrilled for Amy's accomplishment in representing the USA in the Olympic Games,' USC head coach Ali Khosroshahin said. 'Her dedication, discipline and perseverance over the last year and a half has truly paid off for her. She has the potential of being a gamebreaker every time she steps on the field and she can help the US reach their goal of winning the gold medal.'
The United States is ranked No. 1 in the world and has medaled in all three Olympic Games in which women's soccer has been included, winning gold in 1996 and 2004 and taking silver in 2000.