Posted by Jerry Hinnen
We speculated yesterday that after substitute Megan Rapinoe's heroics in the U.S.'s two elimination games and the continued struggles of starting forward Amy Rodriguez, head coach Pia Sundhage might promote Rapinoe to the starting lineup or drop Rodriguez to the subs' bench for today's Women's World Cup final.
As it turns out, Sundhage has elected to kill both of those birds with the same stone. Midfielder Lauren Cheney has been moved to striker, both opening up a position for Rapinoe on the wing and moving Rodriguez to the bench.
Cheney has plenty of experience at striker and proved her goalscoring chops in the semifinal against France, finishing cooly to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute. Her superior passing to Rodriguez's could also help what projects to be a substantial U.S. deficit in possession against the highly technical Japanese.
As expected, central defender Rachel Buehler has returned to the starting lineup after her red-card suspension against the French. Replacement Becky Sauerbrunn returns to the bench.
The full U.S. starting 11:
GK: Hope Solo
D (right to left): Aly Krieger, Rachel Buehler, Christie Rampone, Amy LePeilbet
M: Heather O'Reilly, Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe
F: Abby Wambach, Lauren Cheney