Rose Lavelle got her first cap for the US women’s national team during the 2017 SheBelieves Cup, playing a full 90 as the US took on England in their second game of the tournament. The USWNT ended up losing 1-0 on a very late goal from England, but Lavelle was the brightest spot among the American XI despite being started in an unfamiliar position, then moved around all over the midfield.
Lavelle was started in a 3-4-1-2 at left mid by Jill Ellis despite being a central midfielder. Still, Lavelle immediately took control of the position and demonstrated ease with the ball at her feet (see: multiple nutmegs of English players to escape sticky situations), good off-the-ball movement that helped open passing channels, passing that showed awareness of the developing play, a willingness to shoot on goal, and speed to beat others in long bursts from defensive to offensive third.
She set up several opportunities to score, including a ball rolling across an empty goal in the 73’ that went sadly unclaimed by any American forward.
Lavelle was also switched from left to right and back to left again, before eventually being shifted to the center after Carli Lloyd was subbed in the 75’. With a reorganized midfield four behind her, Lavelle didn’t really have an opportunity to dig in at her more natural CAM role, although she did fine at it.
“Definitely the first couple touches I was nervous but then the adrenaline starts going,” said Lavelle after the game. “I’m used to being in the middle so being on the flank was a little different for me, but I feel like I got my groove as the game went on.”
It would be great if Ellis gave Lavelle a full 90 in the central position, especially considering Lloyd has been struggling for the past two games. But it doesn’t necessarily hurt that Lavelle demonstrated her versatility in the mid - Ellis seems very much to favor players she can move around in several roles, and it bodes well for Lavelle that she can perform in any channel.
“[Her performance] is a phenomenal answer I got tonight, Rose Lavelle,” said Ellis at the postgame press conference. “She was fantastic. I thought she did great. I think it’s her first cap and five minutes of nerves and then she settled into that game and she was one of the best players in the park...we’ll see in terms of where she ends up.”
Next up for the United States is their last SheBelieves game against France. The United States must win in order to win the tournament, along with either a win by Germany over England, or a better goal differential over England should they prevail.
USA vs France kicks off on March 7 at 7 PM ET and will air live on FS1.