The Ancient Greeks christened the rose the “queen of flowers” and the title has stuck ever since. On the one hand, the subtle fragrance and full bloom envelope the senses, and the glorious colours and delicate forms draw admiring glances. On the other hand, the blooms must be handled with caution due to the ever-present threat of being caught on their thorns.

USA feature not one but two roses in their ranks at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada in the shape of Rose Chandler and Rose Lavelle.

Lavalle has started both the Stars & Stripes’ matches so far and caught the eye with commanding performances in both games. She was one of the most influential players in qualifying for Canada 2014 and came away with the Golden Ball for the most valuable player at the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship.

In the most recent match against Brazil she initiated most of her side’s attacking plays and constantly probed for openings, and although it was tough going at times she and her team were ultimately rewarded for their efforts. This was a Rose at its thorniest and most dangerous.

"We could always do better and should be finishing more of the chances we had, but I’m glad we got that one at the end and won. We’ve got to be happy about it," the Cincinatti-based midfielder told with a smile of relief on her face.

Taking chances will be key
The North Americans’ opening match against Germany ended in defeat with USA left to rue a string of missed chances. Lavelle and her team-mates vowed to show greater ruthlessness in the meeting with Brazil but in fact struggled for rhythm for long periods on the day.

"The biggest thing we can take away is that we have to finish off some of our early chances,” she said. “I think we scared ourselves a little there - we were ten minutes away from not advancing. In the next game we really have to focus on finishing our chances."

That will be essential if the US women are to stay out of trouble against the lively Chinese, who scored no fewer than five against Germany in a textbook demonstration of efficient finishing.

"I wasn’t expecting that. It was 2-2 when we were walking in and our coach came in and said ‘it’s 5-5’. I was shocked. That’s a lot of goals in one game," reflected Lavelle as she reviewed the strengths of her team’s final Group B opponents.

Fighting to the end
"We’ve obviously been warned. They scored five goals against Germany so it’s going to be a tough match. But we’re both good teams so it will be a good game." College basketball devotee Lavelle believes she knows what is required to book all three points and a place in the next round. "We need to slow down a little in transition,” she explained.

“A lot of times we were too excited, went straight in and were pushing forward as soon as we could - but were losing possession a lot. We’re learning from our mistakes and taking away what we didn’t do well in our games, applying it and trying again. Our mentality is just great. We always fight until the end and that’s what we’re going to do again," she concluded.