Time to unleash fit-again Rose Lavelle: How the USWNT should line-up in Women's World Cup rematch with the Netherlands

Rose Lavelle USWNT 2023
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Vlatko Andonovski unleashed some surprises in his team's World Cup opener, so expect changes for the group-stage encounter

The United States women's national team's 2023 World Cup introduction was something of a soft launch. They were welcomed to New Zealand by an overmatched, but game, Vietnam team. What resulted was a dominant USWNT win, a 3-0 victory that could, and should, have been a lot heavier.

Their next outing, though, will look different. Their second game isn't against a minnow Vietnam, but rather the team they beat in the World Cup final four years ago in France. Game two comes against the Netherlands, and the U.S. will have to show what this team is and can be at this tournament.

There's no room for error against the Netherlands, a team that will certainly know what they're in for here. This is a new Netherlands team, but also a very new USWNT squad. We got a glimpse of that U.S. team against Vietnam, although the group's true best XI is still a bit of a mystery due to Vlatko Andonovski's rotations.

So how does he line up the USWNT in this one? Were his opening game surprises a sign of things to come or a pre-planned rotation? GOAL takes a look at how the USWNT should line up on Wednesday against the Netherlands...

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  1. GK: Alyssa Naeher
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    GK: Alyssa Naeher

    No need to go too deep for this one as Naeher is the starter. She did next to nothing in the opener, but could be key here against a Netherlands team that should be able to create against the U.S.

  2. LB: Crystal Dunn

    LB: Crystal Dunn

    At times, it feels like she's being held back at left-back due to her ability to get forward, but you do have to acknowledge how important Dunn is to this USWNT.

    Against Vietnam, she wasn't quite as effective as she could have been, although this Netherlands match will be a different type of game. Her defensive capabilities will surely be tested in this one after having very little to do in that area of the game last time out.

  3. CB: Naomi Girma

    CB: Naomi Girma

    The World Cup debut is out of the way, and it was a good one. This, though, will be Girma's first real test. She did what she needed to do against Vietnam, which was almost exclusively clean-up duty. In this game, she'll certainly be tested early and often as the Netherlands will no doubt look to go at the young center-back.

    She hasn't seemed overawed yet since arriving on the international stage. On Wednesday, she'll really get the chance to show what she's made of.

  4. CB: Alana Cook

    CB: Alana Cook

    It was something of a shock to see Cook benched against Vietnam but, in hindsight, it's understandable. With just two primary center-backs in the squad, it makes sense to get rest where you can, even if it's the opening game.

    Cook, then, will be fit and ready for this one. She'll be eager for her first World Cup start after seeing Julie Ertz given the chance to partner Girma last time out.

    Could Ertz start in this spot again? Definitely. She did well against Vietnam and, given her experience, it may be useful to have a veteran back there. Still, we'll go with Cook, a natural center-back, given the opponent.

  5. RB: Emily Fox
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    RB: Emily Fox

    With Dunn on the left, Fox stays in on the right as an inverted full-back. If Andonovski does opt to bench Dunn, Fox could very well slide to the left, with either Kelley O'Hara or Sofia Huerta coming in at this spot. Both came off the bench last game and both could have something to offer in this one: Huerta's crosses and O'Hara's experience.

    The most likely answer, though, is the simplest: Dunn and Fox on opposite flanks once again.

  6. CM: Lindsey Horan

    CM: Lindsey Horan

    She popped up with a goal last game, and the USWNT co-captain is pretty likely to start this one, too. In addition to her goal, Horan played the ball that unlocked Vietnam for the opener, capping off a quietly good game for the Lyon star.

    Her ability on the ball is key for the U.S., especially considering the fact that she'll be facing a few club team-mates on the other side.

  7. CM: Julie Ertz

    CM: Julie Ertz

    Is she fit enough to start again? That's the big question isn't it. If Ertz isn't, this spot will go back to Andi Sullivan, who started here in the opener, and for most of the last few years to be fair. If Ertz can go, though, she is the best option as a No.6. At this stage, Ertz at even 80 percent is still probably the best option.

    It's a tough call, for sure, given her lack of soccer. Her experience, though, would be super helpful, especially considering the inexperience of the two center-backs behind her in this XI.

  8. CM: Rose Lavelle

    CM: Rose Lavelle

    Another massive question mark. She was on a minutes restriction in the opener due to a recent injury, coming on in the second half alongside Megan Rapinoe. Lavelle, by and large, looked comfortable, notably coming within inches of getting a goal but being denied by the crossbar.

    Lavelle will need to be 100 percent for the USWNT to win this thing. Is it worth risking her in this game if she isn't fully there yet? Does Andonovski save her as a supersub, and can he afford to against a team as good as the Netherlands?

  9. LW: Sophia Smith
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    LW: Sophia Smith

    She was unstoppable in the opener, so Smith isn't going anywhere. The Portland Thorns star already has two goals and an assist to her name, but this is an obvious step up in competition. Chances won't come as easily as they did against Vietnam, so Smith and her attacking team-mates will need to be even more clinical.

    Smith certainly can be. She'll be the one the Dutch will have all eyes on in this one.

  10. ST: Alex Morgan

    ST: Alex Morgan

    A missed penalty ruined her opening game, but Morgan has been around long enough to make sure that doesn't get to her. She missed from the spot. It happens. Onto the next.

    Morgan still is the focal point of this attack. She routinely checked back against Vietnam, opening up space for the other two on the forward line. Her play on the opening goal was phenomenal, to say the least. The four-time World Cup veteran will be key again in this one as she faces a familiar foe.

  11. RW: Trinity Rodman

    RW: Trinity Rodman

    Smith got all of the plaudits, and rightfully so, but Rodman was pretty damn good in the opener, too. The Washington Spirit winger was as dynamic as can be, drawing a penalty in the first half while making defenders uncomfortable all night long.

    Her pace is an absolute weapon and, with the Netherlands less likely to be bunkered in, Rodman could be key to unlocking them.