all scores

USWNT’s Catarina Macario lays out return timeline for 2023 World Cup

Catarina Macario tore her ACL in June 2022. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

U.S. women’s national team midfielder Catarina Macario aims to be back on the soccer pitch in March.

The 23-year-old tore her ACL in June while playing in a league match for French club Lyon. She missed out on the USWNT’s Concacaf title run in July, but she finished ninth in the Ballon d’Or rankings, the highest of the three American nominees.

While speaking Thursday on Julie Foudy’s “Laughter Permitted” podcast, Macario provided an update on her recovery.

The midfielder said her knee is “good” and that she’s feeling “nice and strong” four months after the operation to repair her knee ligament.

“I’m starting to do some more movements and feeling a little bit more like myself again,” she said. “Like I’m somewhat of an athlete. So that’s cool.”

While she doesn’t want to rush her rehabilitation, “the big thing is to be back for the World Cup,” Macario said. The USWNT, which recently lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2017, just learned its group stage opponents, including 2019 World Cup final opponent the Netherlands.

“Obviously, if I can start playing some games and be 100 percent for the Champions League at the end of March,” that would be the best-case scenario, Macario said. “I would like to start ramping it up in February and March and just go from there and hope for the best.”

The midfielder currently is doing rehab at Aspetar in Doha, Qatar, one of the world’s premier rehabilitation facilities with athletes.

“I chose Qatar just because it has the best rehab center in the world,” she said. “And they’re just absolutely incredible with a lot of professional facilities, staff, everything. I just knew that I would be getting the best of care here. I wanted the best of the best.”

Macario has recently started running on the AlterG, an anti-gravity treadmill, she revealed. The machine uses air pressure technology to help reduce gravitational force in accordance with body weight, allowing athletes to use a different percentage of their body weight each time.

She’ll slowly increase the percentage, she said. That way, “your body is ready for when you actually go about and go running,” she said.

“It’s cool. It’s really fun actually,” she continued. “The first time I went I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, if only actual running was as easy as running on the AlterG.’”

Still, she stressed that the most important thing is taking her time to get back to full health. ACL injuries have become more common in women’s soccer of late, with Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas tearing her ACL ahead of the Euros this past summer.

“I’m in no rush,” Macario said.