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. First up: Christen Press.
Total caps: 155
Most recent USWNT appearance: Aug. 5, 2021 vs. Australia (Tokyo Olympics)
On May 8, Press said she was “in the final stages” of her recovery and hopes to rejoin Angel City FC soon. That also could mean a return to the USWNT.
“It has been a unique recovery journey. I’ve had some setbacks, and I’ve had some ups and downs. I think that’s normal,” she said on ESPN’s “Fútbol Americas.” “I think this took a bit longer than I had hoped up until now. But I’m in the final stretch of my recovery. I’m starting to feel like myself again, getting my body back. Hopefully I’ll be joining the team soon.”
The update came after the 34-year-old forward revealed in March that she had undergone three surgeries on her knee in eight months. She tore her ACL in an ACFC game last June.
At her best, Press is one of the best in the world at her position. And even at 80% or 90% of her full self, Press would provide a boost to the USWNT forward group – especially in the absence of Mallory Swanson.
While 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson has stepped up for Angel City in recent weeks, and Midge Purce certainly makes a strong case for the USWNT despite her own recent injury spell, Press’ veteran presence could be invaluable – especially in the later stages of the tournament.
Press also has made it clear that she hopes to be with the team on the plane to Australia and New Zealand.
“There has never been a moment where I lost hope and that I took my focus off of the World Cup, from the moment that I got injured until now,” she said. “It’s the North Star for all of us professional players and it’s a motivation.
“Obviously the timing’s really tough. But I’m doing everything I can to get back as quickly as possible because it would be a dream come true to represent my country again at that level.”
While it’s worth noting that Press would not have been included on the Concacaf W Championship roster in 2022 even before her injury, Andonovski has kept up to date on her status. And the team’s depth at forward has thinned due to other injuries. So bringing back a player of Press’ caliber could be smart if she’s close to full health.