Every member of the U.S. women’s national team will be available to play in their Women’s World Cup opener against Vietnam, including Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, and Megan Rapinoe after battling injuries in the buildup to the tournament, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski, though, plans not to rush Lavelle and Rapinoe into World Cup play.
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“They’re ready to play — from a medical standpoint, everyone’s available,” Andonovski said in his pre-match comments on Friday in Auckland, per ESPN. While he shared that “Julie is 100%,” he admitted his plans to be patient with Lavelle and Rapinoe.
“Rose actually has been really good — she’s trained with the team now for a good three weeks, and off-and-on she trained with us before that,” Andonovski said. “She’s ready to play and we’re not going to force a lot of minutes from the beginning. We’ll ease everything up as we move on.
“Megan is in the same boat like Rose. Her minutes are probably going to grow as the tournament goes by.”
All three missed the USWNT’s World Cup warmup against Wales on July 9 with fitness issues. Andonovski said at the time that Ertz, who returned to play in April after nearly two years away from the field through a knee injury and then maternity leave, would have started if it was a World Cup match. Rapinoe, meanwhile, has not played since June 10 after picking up a calf injury during NWSL action and Lavelle has been out since April after injuring her knee in a friendly against Ireland.
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USWNT starting lineup vs. Vietnam
Starting lineup: Alyssa Naeher; Emily Fox, Naomi Girma, Julie Ertz, Crystal Dunn; Andi Sullivan, Lindsey Horan, Savannah DeMelo; Sophia Smith, Alex Morgan, Trinity Rodman
Ertz isagainst Vietnam despite a lengthy spell away from the pitch, and will likely re-position herself as a mainstay for the USWNT during the World Cup. But in a shock move she’s likely going to be at center back with Andi Sullivan, and Lindsey Horan both starting along with the shock decision to bring midfielder Savannah DeMelo into the starting XI.
As for Rapinoe, many anticipated that she would be an option off the bench for the biggest matches during this tournament, even at full fitness. Forwards Alex Morgan and Sophia Smith may retain their spots in the lineup after starting against Wales, while Trinity Rodman could be rewarded for her brace against Wales as a substitute with a start against Vietnam.
Ashley Sanchez slotted into the midfield against Wales in Lavelle’s absence, and do so again. She’s expected to be joined in midfield by Ertz and USWNT captain Lindsey Horan.
- Date: Friday, July 21 | Time: 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Eden Park — Auckland, New Zealand
- TV: Fox | Live stream: Fox Sports App and fuboTV (Try for free)
- Odds: USA -75000; Draw +2800; Vietnam +5000 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Featured Game | United States vs. Vietnam