Injuries and extended absences 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.
As head coach Vlatko Andonovski continues to evaluate players before naming a final roster next summer, we take a look at recent USWNT mainstays on the outside looking in and where they stand in the run-up to the biggest tournament in women’s soccer. Next up: Christen Press.
Total caps: 155
Most recent USWNT appearance: Aug. 5, 2021 vs. Australia (Tokyo Olympics)
The 33-year-old ranks ninth in USWNT history in goals scored with 64.
Her first two came way back in 2013, in her first appearance (and first start). She scored again in her next appearance, becoming the only player to score three goals in her first two games for the national team.
Press went on to serve as a key member of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup squads. In 2019, she was one of four U.S. players to feature in all seven matches en route to the title.
In September 2021, Press was named to the USWNT roster for two friendlies, but she chose to give up her spot. She wanted to take “a couple of months away from the game” to focus on her mental health, she wrote in an Instagram post, but she added: “I believe I will come back stronger than ever.”
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Christen Press (@christenpress)
A post shared by Christen Press (@christenpress)
Since then, Press has not been called up to the USWNT.
She looked strong to start the NWSL season with expansion team Angel City FC, but she tore her ACL in June, ending her campaign after just eight matches.
The news of the injury came shortly after Andonovski announced his roster for the Concacaf W Championship, but the coach said her injury did not factor into his decision to leave her off the roster.
“Christen Press was not on the roster even before the injury,” Andonovski said. “We’re very sorry for her injury and don’t have confirming information on the extension or the significance of the injury. We just hope that it is not too serious.”
Press is still on the road to recovery from her ACL tear, and Andonovski said he expects her to be back on the pitch around February 2023, he said in late October. But it could be a tougher road back to the USWNT.
In discussing her exclusion from the World Cup qualifying roster, Andonovski cited the team’s depth at the forward position.
“I think that she is performing well, but it’s not just her,” Andonovski said. “For Christen to be back on the field, it’s not just to do well or perform well in her club environment. It’s also outperform the players that she’s competing against… like Mal Pugh and Sophia Smith and Alex Morgan, Ashley Hatch, Trinity Rodman.
“It’s not easy to be a forward in the United States right now. Obviously it’s great, but it’s not easy because the competition just got bigger and bigger.”