Rose Lavelle after she suffered her injury. (Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Rose Lavelle won’t be suiting up for the U.S. women’s national team game against New Zealand on Sunday.
The 26-year-old midfielder suffered an ankle injury during the Americans’ scoreless draw with the Czech Republic in the opening match of the SheBelieves Cup in Carson, Calif. on Thursday night.
Lavelle was replaced by Ashley Sanchez in the 72nd minute.
“Rose is doing well and she did injure her ankle,” USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski said during a Saturday Zoom call with the media. “We are going to be careful. We’re not going to force anything. We’ll see how she’s going feel for game three and [she] may get some minutes in that one. But right now for this game I think it’s best if she if she rests, does some treatment and then we’ll go from there.
“Needless to say, if this game was a little more meaningful, if it was a big tournament. Rose would have been on the field.”
The USA had countless opportunities against the Czechs on Thursday night but could not find the net. Despite the draw, Andonovski felt the team’s training atmosphere was still high.
“Actually, the enthusiasm and the energy may be even a little bit higher,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t get the result that we wanted to get but there were so many good things that came out of the game, positive things. That actually makes us all feel excited about the future. We’re looking forward for the next one.”
Sunday’s encounter at Dignity Health Sports Park will pit the No. 1-ranked USA against New Zealand, which is No. 22.
The Football Ferns are guided by Jitka Klimkova, a former U.S. Under-20 women’s head coach.
“I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve changed, or the way they’ve evolved ever since Jitka took the coaching job there,” Andonovski said. “They’re just slightly more aggressive. They’re a little more energetic. They’re not a team that sits back and they’re not a team that waits things to happen. They’re more go-get it … which is actually exciting for us.
“It will be a little different challenge. It will be a little bit different setup that we saw probably in the last game. So excited for that because that’s what this tournament is for. We want to see different things. We want different challenges for this group of players that are here, so we can get a clearer picture of everyone and how they react to it.”