USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski says Rose Lavelle, Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz are all available for Saturday’s World Cup opening group game against Vietnam after fitness concerns in the build up to the tournament.

Andonovski confirmed that not all of his 23-player squad were ready to play the full 90 minutes but that there were no injury concerns ahead of the opening fixture.

The U.S. begins their bid for a historic ‘three-peat’ against World Cup debutants Vietnam at Eden Park.

“Everyone on the team was healthy and available for play,” Andonovski said. “Some players are on limited minutes but everyone from a health perspective, from a medical perspective is healthy.”

Lavelle, one of the U.S.’s standout performers during the 2019 World Cup, has been nursing a knee injury and has not featured since April’s international break.

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“Rose is really good, she’s trained with us, with the team for three weeks and trained with us off and on a little bit before that,” Andonovski said. “We’re not going to force a lot of minutes from the very beginning but we’ll ease everything up as we move on.”

Ertz made her return to the USWNT during a pair of April friendlies against the Republic of Ireland. It was her first appearance with the U.S. since the 2021 Olympics. She dealt with a sprained medial collateral ligament before giving birth in August. Ertz joined Angel City in April and appeared in 7 regular season games and a NWSL Challenge Cup match.Rapinoe has been struggling with a hamstring injury since being forced off during OL Reign’s NWSL fixture against Kansas City Current in June. The 2019 golden boot winner would not be expected to start against Vietnam even if fully fit following the emergence of Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith.

Also asked about Rapinoe and Ertz’ fitness. Andonovski said: “They’re both ready to play. Like I said from a medical standpoint, everybody’s available. From a minutes management, Julie is 100% whereas Megan is in the same boat as Rose. Her minutes are going to grow as the tournament goes by.”



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(Photo: Georgia Soares)

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