Women’s soccer card primer: Stickers, Trinity Rodman’s multiple rookies, a company on fire and more

On July 21, the U.S. will play their first game in the Women’s World Cup. Trinity Rodman will have two goals and an assist, and there will be several features on how she is Dennis Rodman’s daughter — a fact that many casual viewers will be learning for the first time. The combination of her skill, personality, and parental lineage will drive her card prices sky-high. Therefore, the time to buy Trinity Rodman cards is RIGHT NOW.

That’s how I thought this story would start. Then I talked to Annmarie Farrell, who runs the Women On Topps Instagram page and is, arguably, one of the world’s foremost authorities on women’s trading cards.

And she ruined it all.

First things first — for those would-be investors looking to buy cards of the USWNT on the dawn of the World Cup — don’t. Farrell says now is actually the time to sell.

“Maybe Trinity Rodman’s a secret to a casual viewer,” Farrell says, “but I don’t think the casual viewer is going to go from ‘I don’t not know who Trinity Rodman is’ to buying Trinity Rodman cards.

“The people who are buying cards,” she explains, “already know who Rodman is. And her cards are high right now.”

Farrell adds that it’s also not the best time to buy Sophia SmithAlyssa Thompson or any of the U.S.’s would-be World Cup stars — it’s not just Rodman. Instead, potential buyers should focus on a group of players Farrell considers to be undervalued and underpriced — the 1999 USWNT members, and particularly products featuring on-card autographs or limited numbered print runs.

If you’re looking for more modern players, Farrell suggests honing in on injured stars who will miss the World Cup and, therefore, have depressed value, like Catarina Macario and Mal Swanson. One USWNT member she does mention for consideration is Rose Lavelle, who scored in the 2019 World Cup final. Her autographed cards have recently sold for anywhere from $55 to $200-plus, depending on the line and scarcity. She adds France’s Marie Katoto to the list of injured stars to speculate on, a group whose cards, “may not be getting the kind of bump that others cards might be getting with the World Cup.”

Don’t like cards? No problem. One area Farrell says could return value over time is the Panini sticker collection, particularly the 2011 set, which had significantly lower print runs than the 2015 and 2019 versions. “If you can find a 2011 Tobin Heath rookie well centered,” she says, “that is like a needle in a haystack.” Farrell adds that if you’re looking for international players, consider the stickers of Lauren James, Sam Kerr (“I think there’s still some growth”) and Lena Oberdorf, who Farrell says is one of the best young players at her position, but “doesn’t get a lot of hobby love.”

Stickers hold a unique place in soccer card collecting, as they are generally given as much respect by collectors as cards. “Stickers mean more in soccer than any other sport,” Farrell says. For instance, Alex Morgan has a 2011 WPS/Upper Deck MLS card, a 2011 SI For Kids card and a 2011 Panini sticker. All three are considered her “rookie.” Which you choose to purchase is a matter of personal preference — a sticker graded PSA 9 could run about $150 based on recent sales; the Upper Deck PSA 9 about $75 and SI For Kids PSA 6 is about $50.

Another angle Farrell suggests would be collecting younger NWSL players filling in for stars who will be playing in the World Cup. She mentions Jaedyn Shaw, an 18 year-old forward for the San Diego Wave, as someone with a big opportunity — filling in while Morgan is away. Shaw’s cards aren’t cheap — an autographed Parkside Paramount runs above $100, with PSA 10 graded versions of her unsigned Parkside rookie card costing about the same — but if she establishes starpower while Morgan is gone, those prices could jump.

And this all brings us to Parkside.

In 2019, television producers Matt Peek and Eric Christensen created Parkside Collectibles, after Peek’s daughter wondered aloud in a Target why there weren’t NWSL cards to collect. The first set came out in 2020 — a 3,000 unit run for the NWSL’s Challenge Cup, available on their website, that sold out within days. In 2021, Parkside could be found in Target and Wal-Mart with a much higher print run. Since then, they’ve carved out a significant market share not only on the shelves of the retail stores, but as part of the card collecting conversation — particularly for women’s soccer.

So far in 2023, Parkside has produced (among other things) their NWSL set, a Mother’s Day release (which included an actual greeting card), the high-end Paramount line, a USWNT SheBelieves Cup set, a special series for Pride Month, and the first NWSL/USWNT co-branded set.

“We fully believe we are creating a totally new collecting community,” Peek explains, “and have tried our best to deliver an affordable and fun product. We want to see our cards in the hands of every women’s soccer fan, young and old.”

The Rodman rookie is part of the 2021 Parkside set. Or, more specifically, rookies. Rodman had three cards in that set — card No. 108 from Vol. 1, Card No. S54 from Vol. 2, and a “Promising Prospects” card. Peek considers 108 her true rookie, with Promising Prospects “a close second” — although he notes that fans can consider anything that first year as a rookie. Farrell notes that while card 108 is her rookie, she’d be aiming more for a foil parallel with a high PSA grade, which is a relatively scarce combo.

And, of course, since Rodman hasn’t participated in a World Cup yet, her 2023 sticker could be considered a rookie, as well. It’s currently selling for about $10 on eBay.

So while now may not be the best time to buy Rodman cards to try to flip, it’s not the worst time to start collecting women’s soccer cards. Between Parkside and the Panini stickers, there are accessible entry points for collectors at any level.

“Some of my favorite cards in my collection aren’t worth much more than the paper they’re printed on,” Farrell says. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to start a collection that you’re proud of.”

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