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Mallory Swanson reveals she needed two surgeries on her knee

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Mallory Swanson warms up before a USWNT match in February 2023. (Erin Chang/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Mallory Swanson needed not one surgery on her knee to repair her patella tendon, but two, she said on The Women’s Game podcast.

Swanson tore her patella tendon last April during a USWNT friendly, which knocked her out of the 2023 World Cup. It was a huge blow to the team, as Swanson had been one of the team’s best players up to that point.

But the knee injury was more serious than people even knew, she revealed Thursday. While the tendon “just completely ruptured,” she initially thought her kneecap was just dislocated.

“That tendon just completely ruptured,” she said. “And then my kneecap went up into my thigh. So it almost dislocated too. It hurt so bad. The training staff came on the field and then they put my kneecap back in place. And then I got relief and I was better.”

Two days later, Swanson had surgery to repair the tendon. Initially, she hoped she could return in time for the World Cup three months later. But a septic infection quickly changed those plans.

“I ended up having an infection in my knee a week and a half later,” Swanson said. “So basically I got surgery and then a week and a half later, I had a second surgery.

“It was really bad. They had to do basically an emergency surgery to try and get this infection out because it was starting to — I don’t want to say it was starting to take over my body — but I was very, very ill.”

Swanson says that she knew after that she wouldn’t end up playing in the World Cup, and in fact “didn’t even think about playing” after the infection. Instead, she was focused on feeling better.

“I was so sick. I was on IV antibiotics for like six weeks,” she said. “I had a PICC line in. It was awful. It was like literally the worst thing ever, but we made it through.”

Now, Swanson will make her return with the NWSL season. She’s back training with the Chicago Red Stars – with whom she signed an NWSL-record deal in the offseason as a free agent.

Swanson said that her knee “is good,” she’s returned to training with the team and she’s taking it day-by-day.

“I feel like it’s weird because it’s like I will talk to people that are coming back from major surgeries and injuries and they’re just like it just takes time,” Swanson continued. “I was like no it doesn’t, I’ll be fine.

“[But] it does, it takes time just to get little things back. But I feel good and I’m thankful for the support and the medical staff that I had supporting me throughout the whole thing.”