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Andi Sullivan praises Christen Press as ‘huge part’ of USWNT legacy

Christen Press announced this week that she will undergo a fourth knee surgery. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Christen Press’ impact on the U.S. women’s national team will live on regardless of her absence from the 2023 World Cup team, midfielder Andi Sullivan explained Tuesday.

The two-time World Cup-winning forward announced on Monday that she will undergo a fourth surgery to repair her knee after tearing her ACL last June. Opening up in an Instagram post, Press called it “an athlete’s recovery-nightmare.”

Press had hoped to make this year’s World Cup team, but time eventually ran out on her recovery.

Speaking to media in New Zealand on Tuesday, Sullivan said that Press has been “a huge part” of the USWNT’s legacy, which involves passing down the winning mentality to future generations.

“Having gone through an ACL tear and recovery, that in itself is hard enough,” Sullivan said. “And luckily, my return was smooth in the grand scheme of things. So when I read that post — yesterday, I think it was — my heart aches for her.”

Sullivan, who’s playing in her first World Cup this summer, expressed her admiration for Press’ grueling fight to return to the field.

“I think any time that you’re injured, the uncertainty of it all, it’s hard enough when they say this is your timeline, and it’s much harder when you think it’s going to be a certain amount of time and there are obstacles that change that,” she continued. “I’m crushed for her, and her ability to continue to hold out hope for herself is so admirable. And she’s been such an important part of this team on and off the field for years.”

A number of other stars are missing from the USWNT’s World Cup roster due to injuries, including Mallory Swanson, Catarina Macario, Becky Sauerbrunn and Sam Mewis. And while they’re not in New Zealand with the rest of the USWNT, Sullivan said the team wouldn’t be where it is today without those players.

“We know that, yes, it’s the 23 of us here who are going to get it done. But also, we know that there’s so many more people who have prepared us in this cycle in the past and in the future,” Sullivan said.

“So I think, yes, we love Press, and we wish her a full recovery, and we miss her and we love her.”