all scores

USWNT’s Catarina Macario nears return from ACL tear

Catarina Macario has signed a three-year deal with Chelsea. (ANP via Getty Images)

Catarina Macario should return to training with French club Olympique Lyon in just a few weeks, and she is eying a possible April return to the U.S. women’s national team, USWNT coach Vlatko Andonosvki revealed Wednesday.

Macario is in the final stages of rehabbing an ACL tear she suffered last June, in Lyon’s final match of the 2021-22 Division 1 Féminine season.

Andonovski provided another update on his star forward this week. He had described her as “four to five weeks away” from solo training back at the beginning of January.

“She is progressing very well,” he said prior to the team’s January camp. “And she is in line to be on the field or in contact play probably in about four to five weeks.”

Macario’s timeline didn’t quite allow the attacker to be ready for February’s SheBelieves Cup roster, but Andonovski is optimistic that she won’t hit any setbacks.

“She’s started training on the field, started training with the ball,” he said this week. “She’s still in Qatar in the center for rehab.”

Macario posted a video of herself doing on-the-ball training on a soccer field to her Instagram on Jan. 23, tagging the FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence at Aspetar, a Sports Medicine Hospital in Doha.

In ACL recovery, it’s not unusual for a player to start building cardio back up before then getting non-contact touches in with a soccer ball for skill-specific training. A player then would proceed to full-contact training, and finally to game action. Andonovski referred to the process as the “return-to-play protocol.”

“She’s doing well, and she’s going back to Lyon to start training to start team training middle of February,” he said. “And then hopefully we can see her starting playing for her club team sometime in the second half of March.”

After five to six weeks of full team training, Macario likely would be ready to play in games, Andonovski estimated. Lyon has a number of league matches in March in which Macario could make her return.

Andonovski also expects her to be available for selection during the next international window, which runs from April 3-11. The USWNT has been careful with player returns from injury, most recently keeping Sophia Smith off of the 2023 SheBelieves roster as she works her way back into fitness.

Macario has 17 caps with the USWNT, and she has scored eight goals and registered three assists in her national team career. She’s a 2022 Champions League winner with Lyon, scoring a goal in their 3-1 win over Barcelona in the final in last May.