Rapinoe to start third consecutive WCup final

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Kate Markgraf explains why Rose Lavelle is vital to the USWNT’s chances of winning another World Cup.

LYON, France — Two of the biggest stars in the Women’s World Cup will be on the field from the start in Sunday’s final, with U.S. captain Megan Rapinoe and Dutch standout Lieke Martens making it back from injury concerns earlier in the week.

Rapinoe becomes the only American player to start each of the past three World Cup finals.

In the running for both the Golden Ball, awarded to the World Cup’s best player, and the Golden Boot, awarded to its top scorer, Rapinoe missed a semifinal win against England with a hamstring strain. She starts at forward alongside Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan and wears the captain’s armband.

Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman expressed some concern about Martens a day before the final. The 2017 world player of the year was replaced at halftime of a semifinal win against Sweden and has been dealing with a foot injury in the knockout rounds.

There was also good news for the Americans with their other injury concern, as Rose Lavelle starts in the midfield after leaving the semifinal with a hamstring problem. She starts alongside Sam Mewis and Julie Ertz in the midfield, with Lindsey Horan on the bench to start the game.

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