USWNT’s Lavelle clear for first start since April

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — U.S. women’s national team midfielder Rose Lavelle is available to start against the Netherlands in the USA’s second match of the Women’s World Cup, coach Vlatko Andonovski said on Wednesday.

“Rose is fine, and I’m happy she’s available for selection,” Andonovski said.

Lavelle added: “I feel pretty good. I feel ready for the second match.”

Lavelle came on for the USWNT in the second half of its World Cup opener against Vietnam and provided a spark in creating scoring chances for the Americans. Despite playing only 27 minutes, she generated an expected assists of 0.24, the fourth-highest of any American.

Lavelle injured her knee in a friendly against Ireland on April 9. At the time, Andonovski called it “a little knock” and held her out of a friendly three days later for what he described as “a precaution,” but she didn’t feature until the Vietnam game. If she starts against the Netherlands, it would be her first start since April 9.

The USWNT plays the Netherlands in Group E on Thursday at Wellington Regional Stadium (9 p.m. ET on Wednesday in the United States), and Lavelle said she expected a difficult match.

“Every time we play them, it’s a very physical and intense match,” she said. “They have a lot of different threats, they’re technical, good on set pieces, so I think it’s going to be a tough game, but we’re really excited for it.”

The Dutch are certainly a familiar opponent for the USWNT. The Americans beat them 2-0 in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final and drew them in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, advancing on penalty kicks.

Lavelle was asked repeatedly on Wednesday about a World Cup “rematch” against the Netherlands, but she insisted USWNT players aren’t thinking about what happened in 2019.

“Both teams are completely different — new players, new coaches — so I think that it’s a fun memory, but we have a new mindset going into this game,” she said. “We know every time we play the Netherlands, it’s going to be a great game. They have a lot of experience on the field.

“I think it’s going to be fun.”

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