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: Tobin Heath.
Total caps: 181
Most recent USWNT appearance: Oct. 26, 2021 vs. South Korea (Friendly)
The 34-year-old made her first appearance with the senior national team in January 2008. Later that year, at 20 years old, she earned a spot on the Olympic roster and helped the team to a gold medal.
Since then, she has won another Olympic gold medal and two World Cups with the USWNT, and she was voted the U.S. Women’s Soccer Player of the Year in 2016. She started six of seven matches at the 2019 World Cup, where the USWNT defended its title.
Heath has struggled with injuries throughout this year.
The forward ended her stint with Arsenal of the Women’s Super League several matches before the end of the season due to a hamstring injury. Muscle ailments limited her to appearances in 18 of 33 matches. She never played a full 90 minutes, and she scored just three goals for the Gunners.
“We haven’t been able to quite get her over [the injuries] well enough to complete 90 minutes yet,” Arsenal coach Jonas Eidevall said before Heath’s departure. “It wasn’t part of the plan when we brought her in, and I would have loved to see her play 90 minutes more often in this team because she is a great player with really great qualities.”
After nursing her hamstring back to health, Heath joined NWSL club OL Reign in July. She appeared in five matches before being sidelined with injury again in August. She underwent season-ending knee surgery in September.
“Although this wasn’t an easy decision, we know this was the right decision,” OL Reign coach Laura Harvey said.
The timeline for Heath’s return to the pitch after her knee surgery remains unknown. Also up in the air? Her future with the USWNT.
As Andonovski pointed out in explaining forward Christen Press’ absence from the roster this summer, “it’s not easy to be a forward in the United States right now.” Younger players, including Mallory Pugh, Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman, have started to make their name in the crowded position group, which could leave Heath on the outside looking in.