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USWNT coach: Rose Lavelle could play 90 minutes next game

Rose Lavelle assisted Lindsey Horan's game-tying goal in the second half of the USWNT's 1-1 draw with the Netherlands. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images)

Rose Lavelle is working her way back toward being a starting midfielder for the U.S. women’s national team, just in time for decisive World Cup games.

After Lavelle was cleared to start against the Netherlands, head coach Vlatko Andonovski opted to sub her in for the start of the second half in Thursday’s 1-1 draw. Following the game, Andonovski said that Lavelle was on a minutes restriction of 45 minutes as she continues to recover from a knee injury.

“If we started (her) in the first half, we’re probably going to have to take her out at halftime because her minutes limitation was around 45 minutes,” he said. “So this way, we actually got a few extra minutes at the end of the game by her starting in the second half.”

While Lavelle is only just making her way back from an injury that had kept her out since April, she’s shown signs of getting back to the player the USWNT needs to make a run at their third straight World Cup title.

Lavelle, 28, played a key role in the USWNT’s last campaign, scoring the game-winning goal in the 2019 World Cup final to seal a 2-0 win over the Netherlands. On Thursday, she assisted Lindsey Horan’s game-tying goal, sending in a well-placed corner kick that Horan headed into the back of the net.

“I thought she did well,” Andonovski said of Lavelle. “I don’t think she had a lot of opportunities. It was a tough game, a lot of opportunities to expose the qualities. But the moment she did, we can see what she’s capable of just controlling the ball, penetrating on a table and finding players.”

Moving forward, Andonovski wasn’t clear on whether Lavelle will continue to ramp up her minutes gradually or be set to play a full 90-minute game. The U.S. plays Portugal in their final group-stage match on Tuesday, with a chance at finishing atop Group E.

“It will certainly be more, but we’re gonna have to check with the medical team,” he said. “It could be 90 minutes.”