Portland Thorns Midfielder Raquel "Rocky” Rodriguez has a long history of being a difference maker on the pitch, starting with her selection to represent Costa Rica at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.
After her stellar youth career, Rocky was recruited to play soccer at Penn State University. In Happy Valley, Rodriguez did more than excel, winning the 2015 Mac Hermann Trophy and the 2015 Honda Sport Award as the nation’s best women’s soccer player. Before her senior season, Rodriguez was selected to the Costa Rican National Team for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup where she made history, scoring Costa Rica's first Women's World Cup goal in a 1-1 draw versus Spain.
After graduating, Rodriguez was selected 2nd Overall in the 2016 NWSL College Draft by Sky Blue FC (now NJ/NY Gotham FC). She made an immediate impact, winning 2016 NWSL Rookie of the Year. After four years with Sky Blue FC, Rodriguez was traded to the Portland Thorns before the 2020 season.
Now in her fourth season with the Thorns, Rodriguez has not only been a key component the Thorns’ success, which included a NWSL Title in 2022, but she has been a difference maker along with teammates Meghan Klingenberg and Emily Menges in a new way, by making the decision to wear the Q-Collar.
We recently had the chance to ask Rodriguez a series of questions to help you learn about our newest Teammate:
What is your favorite moment in your career?
“I can never pick a moment as my favorite, but as I look back into all the special moments I went through, when they happened, although I appreciated and experienced them fully, I didn’t realize how special they truly were. I’m grateful I’ve had the chance to live so many of them, from ones you would categorize as epic, to the ones that don’t seem special. From the everyday interactions with teammates and friends, the laughs and the convos I’ve had, to the important goals and games I’ve been a part of, I think there’s beauty in it all! I can’t just pick one moment over another.”
Who were your favorite players growing up?
“Since women’s soccer wasn’t a thing or as exposed, Ronaldinho Gaucho was my first favorite player ever. Then Messi came around and I fell in love with his game too.”
Is there a particular coach or teammate that had a profound impact on you as a player?
“It would be unfair to attribute impact to only one coach in my career, but I will be forever grateful to Erica (Walsh) Dambach from PSU and Ann Cook. Those two had a huge impact on my career, and they were the ones who brought me to the US to play for the first time. It was a very difficult and challenging couple of years for me, but they guided me and supported me every step of the way, both on and off the field.”
How instrumental were your teammates, Meghan Klingenberg and Emily Menges, in teaching you about the Q-Collar?
“When I first saw them with a Collar, it immediately caught my attention and I asked about it. Kling explained to me what this did, and I thought to myself this was something I should definitely try! So, they were very instrumental in teaching me about it.”
What made you ultimately decided that wearing the Q-Collar was the right decision for you?
“It all comes down to health. If we can do something to protect our brains from damage, the right question to ask is actually ‘why wouldn’t I want to wear it?’”
What does it mean to you to be a member of the Costa Rican National Team for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup?
“It means a lot to me. Every year that goes by, I realize more and more how much more difficult and competitive the game gets, and the fact that I get to represent my country, so many people and women, to wear my nation’s jersey, it’s an honor and I value every moment of it. I always pray to God for health so that I can compete to the best of my ability.”
Being with the Thorns since 2020, what is your favorite thing about Portland?
“I would say game days and the local restaurants are my favorite. The fans and supporters show up every single game, so playing here is a dream come true. They’re people that live and breathe the Thorns, and they make themselves felt every weekend. As a player, that means so much! To have fans and supporters who do exactly that, it makes a difference as a player. The food is amazing in the city too. There are so many options in one small city; I also love how green Portland is. It reminds me of home and makes everything look prettier.”
What do you enjoy doing in your free time away from the sport?
“During the COVID year, I decided to try to learn to play the piano, and I have stuck with it since then. I don’t dedicate as much time as I wish, but at least I still do it from time to time. I also spend some time studying the Bible; I think it’s fascinating. I like to watch shows/movies and listen to podcasts when I find a good one or someone recommends one too.”