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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.

The Late Sub Podcast: Can the USWNT Medal?

The USWNT takes a silly face photo during their team Olympic photo shoot
The USWNT will begin their 2024 Olympic medal hunt on Thursday. (Brad Smith/ISI/Getty Images).

This week, JWS podcast host Claire Watkins discusses WNBA All-Star Weekend, which felt both like a celebration of the league's explosive growth over the past year and a way to set Team USA up for a particularly competitive Summer Olympics.

Later, Watkins previews the field for the upcoming Olympic soccer tournament, nominating her personal "Group of Death" and discussing whether or not the new-era USWNT could still reach medal contention despite their current rebuild under new head coach Emma Hayes.

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Team USA, Germany Play Pre-Olympic Exhibition Game in London

Team USA's 5x5 Basketball Team stands for the National Anthem before Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game
Team USA looks to rebound from Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game loss in an exhibition against Germany today. (Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

USA Basketball's 5x5 team will tip off in an exhibition against Germany in London this afternoon, getting in one last tune-up before the Summer Olympics begin.

The US is hunting an eighth-straight gold medal this year, with group stage play starting on July 29th.

Team USA's Kahleah Copper, Alyssa Thomas, Kelsey Plum, and Sabrina Ionescu gear up to face Germany in pre-Olympic exhibition.
Team USA's Kahleah Copper, Alyssa Thomas, Kelsey Plum, and Sabrina Ionescu gear up to take on Germany in London. (Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

US to use All-Star loss as fuel

Coming off the weekend's All-Star Game loss, the Olympians are ready to repeat history: They earned their Tokyo gold medal immediately after losing the first Team USA vs. Team WNBA All-Star Game back in 2021.

Breanna Stewart, who led Team USA with a 31-point, 10-rebound double-double on Saturday, said that the defeat "is going to help us tremendously. We don’t get that many game opportunities, [and now] we can go back and watch the film and focus on how we can continue to be better."

Today’s tilt against Germany will see the US work to lock in their defense, particularly in the paint. They'll also lean into their positional versatility before heading to Paris.

WNBA pro Satou Sabally leads Team Germany in today's pre-Olympic exhibition game against Team USA.
WNBA pro Satou Sabally helped Germany to their first-ever Olympic berth. (Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Olympic debutants Germany enter first US clash

The exhibition marks the first-ever US-Germany linkup. The German team will make their Olympic debut in Paris after decades of failing to qualify for major international competitions. Their sixth-place 2023 EuroBasket finish sent them into February’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where they punched their ticket to the 2024 Games.

Leading Germany's run was two-time WNBA All-Star Satou Sabally, who put up career-high averages in points, rebounds, assists, and steals with Dallas last season. Her 20-point, 11-rebound double-double was the difference-maker in Germany's must-win 73-71 Olympic qualifying victory over Brazil.

Other German players to watch include 2022 NY Liberty draft-pick — and Sabally's sister — Nyara Sabally, along with Liberty sharpshooter Leonie Fiebich.

Where to watch the Team USA vs. Germany game

Today’s exhibition tips off at 3 PM ET with live coverage on FS1.

1v1 With Kelley O’Hara: USWNT Star Jaedyn Shaw Is Expecting “Dubs All Around”

retired uswnt star kelley o'hara interviewing san diego wave and uswnt forward jaedyn shaw
'1v1' is back with Jaedyn Shaw joining Kelley O'Hara for a conversation about the upcoming Paris Olympics. (Just Women's Sports)

In the latest episode of Just Women's Sports' 1v1 With Kelley O'Hara, San Diego Wave and USWNT star Jaedyn Shaw joins two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Kelley O'Hara for a one-on-one conversation about the upcoming Paris Olympics.

We hear from the 19-year-old Wave FC phenom about her first impressions of new USWNT coach Emma Hayes, her experience with international competition at this point in her young career, and how she's preparing to take on the 2024 Summer Games.

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The 91st: Complete USWNT & Olympic Soccer Preview Featuring Jess McDonald

Logo for JWS USWNT Olympic show The 91st
The latest season of JWS' awarding-winning Olympics show 'The 91st' premieres today. (Just Women's Sports)

We're back! Hosts Jordan Angeli, Duda Pavao, and retired USWNT forward Jess McDonald deliver a full preview of this year's Olympic soccer tournament in Paris.

Watch for full analysis of USWNT manager Emma Hayes's coaching style, this team's shifting identity in this new USWNT era, and a projected starting XI for the team's group stage opener against Zambia. The 91st hosts also break down all three Olympic groups — including top players and teams to track throughout the tournament — plus give their predictions for the medal rounds and individual awards.

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