Injuries have taken a toll on the U.S. women’s national team as the reigning world champions prepare for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
While coach Vlatko Andonovski’s roster is coming into shape, several players are nearing their returns and could make a late push for a spot. They may not all get back to 100% in time for the World Cup, but Andonovski has made it clear that he’ll take the best, even if they’re not at their best.
“What is someone’s best and what is someone’s 80% or 90%?” he said. “If somebody’s 80% or 90% is better than somebody else’s best, then too bad. Anyone that will help us win the World Cup will be taken to the World Cup.”
So who are those players? Just Women’s Sports takes a look at who could come back from injury just in time to board the plane to the World Cup. Next up: Catarina Macario.
Total caps: 17
Most recent USWNT appearance: April 12, 2022 vs. Uzbekistan (International friendly)
It’s been 11 months since Macario tore her ACL during Lyon’s Champions League final – which, in an ideal recovery timeline, would have the 23-year-old back on the pitch or at least in training.
Yet while Macario reportedly has been nearing her return, she yet to make an appearance for either the USWNT or for her club team Olympique Lyonnais. She was expected to resume training with Lyon in early April, but she confirmed in mid-April that she had yet to do so. There haven’t been any updates since then.
“I have been talking to Vlatko, obviously, about the whole situation,” Macario said on CBS Sports. “Specifically because my season in Lyon [ends soon] and I’m hoping obviously to play as soon as I can. But, like I said, sometimes with injuries you just have to be patient, you need to have time and just hope everything heals well.
“So far so good. At some point I think it’s just going to be the fact that Vlatko is gonna have to trust me and knowing that if I say that I’m ready, I’m ready.”
Still, her extended absence from the pitch leaves ample room for concern.
Is there a case for Macario not to be on the USWNT roster if she’s in playing form ahead of the World Cup? Probably not. But the tournament is fast approaching, and she is nowhere in sight.
The time for her to see some professional competition ahead of the World Cup is running out, as Lyon has just two matches left in the French league season. While the NWSL remains an option, she’d likely need to work her way into form. Still, even if she can get just a few matches under her belt in the next month, she make be worth the risk for the USWNT — especially given the state of the midfield without her.