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Utah Royals striker Amy Rodriguez plays makes successful comeback with USWNT following ACL tear

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Utah Royals FC forward Amy Rodriguez (8) takes photos with fans after a match against the Orlando Pride at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, May 9, 2018.

Utah Royals FC forward Amy Rodriguez (8) takes photos with fans after a match against the Orlando Pride at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, May 9, 2018.

Scott G Winterton

SANDY — Amy Rodriguez took the field with U.S. women's soccer for the first time since April 2017 for a friendly game against China Thursday night.

Rodriguez subbed in for starting forward Alex Morgan in the 76th after Morgan secured the 1-0 victory for USWNT. The Utah Royals FC striker played the final 14 minutes of the match in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium. This was Rodriguez's 131st cap in which she has recorded 30 goals.

"It was a unique experience," Rodriguez said. "Obviously I play at this field every weekend and it felt like home a little bit. ... I just wanted to put on a good show for the fans and hopefully they all had a good time."

Rodriguez torn ACL in the 2017 NWSL season opener. She took a year off in order to heal properly and take care of her second son, Luke. Rodriguez, who has been married to former USC water polo player Adam Shilling for almost seven years, gave birth to her first son Ryan in August 2013 and second son Luke in July of 2016.

Due to a large amount of leave and serious injuries Rodriguez suffered from, she was afraid she would not come back the same player she was in her previous appearances with USWNT and URFC. With persistence through adversity, though, the former Olympian was able to deliver a solid performance for the team.

"It was everything I remembered, but it meant so much more because of the uphill battle I faced this last year with the injury," Rodriguez said. "It's never easy coming back, you never know what kind of player you're going to return to be. ... I put a lot of tears and a lot of sweat into this, and I'm just happy to be back on the field tonight."

Head coach Jill Ellis was impressed with Rodriguez's comeback, noting how well Rodriguez fits with the chemistry of the team.

"I think it's remarkable in terms of how well she's come back and I know the work she's put (in)," Ellis said. "Her commitment and mindset are fantastic. She still has the same qualities in her ability to turn and run at players."

Ellis called up Rodriguez along with her URFC teammates Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Smith to a training camp that started in Sandy on June 1. Ellis will be studying each potential player thoroughly throughout camp and the next friendly game against China on Tuesday to make the final decision about who will be chosen for the final roster for the Tournament of Nations.