OTTAWA, Ontario – In need of changes amid the United States’ struggles at this Women’s World Cup and forced to make some due to two suspensions, U.S. coach Jill Ellis started midfielder Kelley O’Hara and forward Amy Rodriguez for the first time this tournament on Friday against China in the quarterfinals.
[WATCH USA-CHINA LIVE ON NBCDEPORTES.COM, NBC UNIVERSO]
O’Hara earned her first career start at in a World Cup match in place of the suspended Megan Rapinoe. She played in one match off the bench at the 2011 World Cup after joining the 2011 team in the final weeks before the tournament due to Lindsay Tarpley’s knee injury. O’Hara played every minute at fullback at the 2012 London Olympics.
Rodriguez also earned the start at forward alongside Alex Morgan, sending Abby Wambach to the bench. Wambach started three of the first four matches for the United States. Morgan Brian, 22, started in place of suspended Lauren Holiday.
Last month, O’Hara, who is a former NCAA scoring champion and MAC Herman Trophy winner at Stanford, told The Equalizer that she was ready to play at either outside back or as a wide midfielder.
“This time around I feel like I’m kind of a veteran after playing in the Olympics and that sort of thing, so I feel like I have a lot more experience and I feel much more prepared to play a bigger role and that sort of thing in this tournament,” she said in May.
Rodriguez also earned the start at forward alongside Alex Morgan, sending Abby Wambach to the bench. Wambach started three of the first four matches for the United States.
Rapinoe and Holiday were each suspended for Friday’s match due to receiving their second yellow cards of the tournament on Monday in the Round of 16 against Colombia.
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