Megan Rapinoe returns to USWNT starting lineup for World Cup final

Megan Rapinoe is in the United States' starting lineup for the 2019 Women's World Cup final. (Getty)
Megan Rapinoe is in the United States' starting lineup for the 2019 Women's World Cup final. (Getty)

Megan Rapinoe is back. Back where she deserves to be. Back where she belongs on Sunday in Lyon.

The transcendent U.S. national team star missed Tuesday’s semifinal victory over England with what she called a “slight hamstring strain.” But Rapinoe is in the USWNT’s starting 11 for Sunday’s 2019 Women’s World Cup final, which kicks off at 11 a.m. ET (Fox, Telemundo).

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Rapinoe will reclaim her spot on the left wing, with semifinal goalscorer Christen Press dropping back to the bench.

Rose Lavelle is also fit and in the 11. She exited the semi with a hamstring problem of her own, but claimed afterwards she would be “fine.” And she, like Rapinoe, was right.

Lindsey Horan, however, drops back to the bench, with Sam Mewis replacing her.

Here is the full U.S. lineup:

U.S. starting lineup

In text form, from back to front, right to left (4-3-3):

Alyssa Naeher; Kelley O’Hara, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn; Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis; Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe.

Five of the 11 – Ertz, Sauerbrunn, Heath, Morgan and Rapinoe – started the 2015 final, which the U.S. won 5-2 over Japan. A sixth, O’Hara, came off the bench that day. Only one, Rapinoe, also started the 2011 final. (Morgan and Heath came off the bench eight years ago.)

And here are the 12 players available off the bench today: Adrianna Franch, Ashlyn Harris; Tierna Davidson, Emily Sonnett, Ali Krieger; Lindsey Horan, Morgan Brian, Allie Long; Carli Lloyd, Christen Press, Mal Pugh, Jessica McDonald.

Lieke Martens starts for the Netherlands

On the other side, Netherlands winger Lieke Mertens is in the Dutch starting lineup despite battling a rib injury in recent days:

Star winger Shanice van de Sanden is on the bench for the second straight game, with Lineth Beerensteyn starting on the right wing.

Martens, striker Viviane Miedema, and midfielders Danielle van de Donk and Jackie Groenen are the players to watch for the Dutch. The U.S., though, is a heavy favorite.

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Henry Bushnell is a features writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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