Where in the World is Raquel Rodriguez?
Raquel Rodriguez is under contract with Sky Blue FC, but has yet to make an official public appearance with the team. According to sources, this is not a coincidence, but an intentional break between player and team.
Rodriguez was re-signed in the offseason, with Sky Blue exercising their option to renew her contract. And in their preseason roster announcements, she has been listed as rostered. Moreover, unlike some players who have been listed as NYR (not yet reported), Rodriguez’s name has been unfootnoted. By all official accounts, she is part of the team.
And yet, there is no official documentary proof of this fact. No photographs, no comments on the record, nothing. What’s more, not only has Rodriguez did not make an appearance in Sky Blue’s first preseason match this weekend, she was not even present for the game. This is despite suggestions from her social media that she spent the day exercising elsewhere in town.
And this is the persistent conundrum. According to her social media accounts, Rodriguez spent a significant portion of the offseason training in New Jersey with her teammates. So why has she been MIA from official events?
The answer may come back to the extensively discussed problems between players, the front office, and the coaching staff. The background problems with the organization are well known, and seem to have played a significant role in a number of offseason departures. And Backline’s RJ Allen reported in January that problems extended to the head coach, who may have alienated some key players.
According to my reporting, Rodriguez is unhappy in New Jersey. One source familiar with the situation told me that she wants to avoid causing problems for her teammates, but also has no intention of spending another season at Sky Blue. This source suggested that the media blackout is an attempt to keep the issue under the radar while alternatives are explored. The first choice seems to be a trade within the league. But with time running out, Rodriguez may look abroad for other options. However, another source cautioned that the situation is still up in the air, and told me that arrangements to keep Rodriguez at Sky Blue might still be made.
I reached out to Sky Blue for comment on this story, but did not receive a response.
Given the persistent speculation that the future may not be long for Sky Blue as an organization, it shouldn’t be particularly surprising that many players are looking into other options. The increasing coverage of the team’s player support infrastructure also makes clear why a longtime member of the squad might be frustrated.
But for now, with everyone playing close to the vest, we may just have to wait for concrete news to emerge.
Update: We have been told Rodriguez was at the game but was not on the bench for the match. As of now this claim is unconfirmed but we felt it was worth mentioning.