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USWNT roster updates: Catarina Macario, Tobin Heath and more

Catarina Macario and Tobin Heath are among the USWNT players working their way back from injury. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team is still waiting on several players to return from injuries in the run up to the 2023 World Cup.

After the release of the roster for February’s SheBelieves Cup, which will serve as a tune-up for this summer’s main event, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski provided updates on the status of many of the injured and absent players.

Catarina Macario

Andonovski described the forward/midfielder, who reaching the end of her rehab for an ACL injury, as being available for selection in April. She also is preparing to rejoin her club Olympique Lyonnais.

“She’s started training on the field, started training with the ball,” Andonovski said. “She’s still in Qatar in the center for rehab. She’s doing well, and she’s going back to Lyon to start training to start team training middle of February, and then hopefully we can see her starting playing for her club team sometime in the second half of March. It takes about five to six weeks in team training before she starts playing games. So we expect to see her back, or eligible for selection, for April camp.”

Sophia Smith

The Portland Thorns forward missed the January USWNT camp while rehabbing a lingering injury. Smith is still building up fitness to be available for selection in April, Andonovski said.

“Both [Macario and Smith] are in return to play protocols. Soph actually is looking good. She’s back on the field running, and I think that if we rushed it a little bit, we could have got some minutes from her. But I didn’t feel like this was a situation where we rushed to get it back. Our goal is not just to get her back, but to stay back, and that’s why she’s not in this camp.”

Tobin Heath

The free agent forward also was listed as a possibility for selection in April, and Andonovski said Heath is “absolutely” still under consideration for selection for the 2023 World Cup.

“Tobin is one of those players that has tremendous experience with the national team playing against top level teams, and she’s a born leader and born winner. She has won World Cups. She has won championships in club, college, everywhere. So anyone that is, you know, healthy and ready and in good form and can help this team be successful, is gonna be looked at and selected for the roster for the World Cup.”

Jaelin Howell

The 23-year-old midfielder hasn’t seen USWNT minutes since April 2022, but Andonovski says she is still in the conversation for the World Cup as she works with her club Racing Louisville.

“Jaelin and I had a really good conversation before we sent out the invites, and the conversation pretty much was that Jaelin is certainly not out of the picture. She does have something that, or she is good at something that probably not another No. 6 in the league is now with Julie Ertz absent so we want to see that from her in the league. We want to see it on a consistent basis. And that’s what is going to get her back on the team. We’re excited about Jae, she’s not someone that we have given up on just because she’s not on the roster. We are in constant communication with her and analyzing everything that she’s doing.”

Christen Press

The 34-year-old forward, back in training with Angel City FC as she finishes rehabbing an ACL injury, could be available for selection in April, Andonovski said.

“Christen Press, who I think is very similar to Tobin, just very experienced, has been in two World Cups, won two World Cups, and we know that can be an asset on any team.”

Sam Coffey

The Thorns midfielder was left off the 2023 SheBelieves roster after earning a roster spot in January, though she did not see time in two games against New Zealand.

“Obviously she’s not on this roster in this camp, but that doesn’t mean that she’s out by any means. Anytime someone makes the roster, someone else has to be off the roster. And there was something else that we wanted to see in this camp, in these games, and Sam is very much in the pool. She’s someone that we’re still evaluating and analyzing and is someone that we consider as a player that can have a spot in the World Cup roster.”

Julie Ertz

Andonovski did not have an update on Ertz’s plans for 2023, though he did provide insight into her likelihood for the World Cup. She is a free agent, and she has not played since the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

“Another person that hasn’t been in camp for a while, Julie Ertz, is someone that, obviously we see that she hasn’t committed to any training [or] team in the league so far. And the time is running out pretty much for her as well, and she’s someone that we’re probably not going to be able to count on in the World Cup.”

Sam Mewis

The Kansas City Current midfielder will not be available for selection for the 2023 World Cup due to a progressive knee injury, which has required a second surgery, Andonovski confirmed.

“That’s something that we’ve known for a while. We just wanted to allow Sam to make a decision on when to make this public.”

Kelley O’Hara

The newly minted Gotham FC defender was mentioned as a player who could be available for April selection.

O’Hara told reporters earlier this week that she is still in the rehab process for the hip injury that sidelined her in 2022, but she is confident she will be ready by her club’s first regular season match in March.

Tierna Davidson

The Chicago Red Stars defender “is in the final stages of her recovery from an ACL injury and will participate in the first part of the BioSteel Training Camp in Orlando but will not be on the tournament roster,” according to a U.S. Soccer press release.

Davidson should be available for team selection in April.

New Washington Spirit Head Coach Jonatan Giráldez Arrivin DC

head coach Jonatan Giráldez
Jonatan Giráldez joins the NWSL from FC Barcelona Femení. (Ramsey Cardy/UEFA via Getty Images)

Five months after announcing that the Washington Spirit had hired Barcelona Femení coach Jonatan Giráldez as the team's new head coach, Giráldez has joined the club in Washington, DC.

Giráldez is coming off of a successful season with the Spanish side, having won UEFA Women's Champions League, Copa de la Reina, Supercopa, and Liga F in his final season to complete a lauded Quadruple.

While Giráldez was finishing out his tenure in Europe, Adrián González filled in as Spirit interim head coach. González has also seen success, leading the team to its third-place standing with a 9-3-1 record through 13 games.

“I’m thrilled to join the Spirit and begin this next chapter with the club,” Giráldez said in an official team statement. “To be part of the vision Michele Kang has for the Spirit and women’s soccer globally is an exciting opportunity.”

Giráldez has worked at Barcelona since 2019, initially coming on as an assistant coach before moving up to head coach in 2021. The team went 30-0-0 on the season under Giráldez during his first year as manager.

He brings along with him Andrés González and Toni Gordo, who will serve as the Spirit's Fitness Coach and Club Analyst, respectively.

US Track & Field Olympic Trials Touch Down in Oregon

Sha’Carri Richardson competes in the women’s 200-meter preliminary round during the USATF Outdoor Championships
Sha’Carri Richardson will have some competition this week as athletes vie for an Olympic berth. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Track & Field Trials begin on June 21st, kicking off a 10-day quest to determine who will represent the US in Paris this summer.

The crucial meet will take place in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three finishers in each event will punch their ticket to the 2024 Olympics. As with this past week's US Swimming Trials, even the most decorated athletes must work to earn their spot — and one bad performance could undermine four years of preparation.

Reigning 100-meter World Champion Sha'Carri Richardson headlines this year's field, as the 24-year-old looks to qualify for her second Olympic Games and compete in her first. Richardson is a world champion in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint, but missed the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for THC shortly after the last US Olympic Trials.

Other standouts include 400-meter Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who's currently the most decorated athlete in the active women's US Track & Field pool. McLaughlin-Levrone qualified to run in the 200-meter and 400-meter flat races alongside the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials, but opted to focus solely on her signature event.

800-meter specialist Athing Mu will also be a huge draw this week, as the Olympic gold medalist looks to shake off a lingering hamstring injury while pursuing her second Summer Games. Gold medal-winning pole vaulter Katie Moon will also attempt to qualify for her second-straight Olympic Games.

Ole Miss star McKenzie Long could be Richardson's greatest competition in the 100-meter and 200-meter events, as well as Richardson's Worlds teammate Gabby Thomas in the 200-meter. In field events, watch for Oregon senior Jaida Ross going head-to-head with reigning world champion Chase Jackson in the shot put, as both push for their first Olympic team berth.

Regardless of why you tune in, the US Olympic Trials are a perpetually thrilling and sometimes brutal qualification process. If you're able to make your way to the head of the pack, a shot at Olympic glory might just be waiting at the finish line.

Fans can catch live coverage throughout the Trials via NBC, USA, and Peacock.

Top Teams Square Off in NWSL Weekend Slate

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda
Orlando Pride, led by forward Barbra Banda, will take on Utah in this weekend's NWSL action. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As the NWSL season continues, a few top-performing clubs will have a chance to boost their standings this weekend.

First-place Kansas City will travel to Providence Park to take on fifth-place Portland, as the Current look to keep their unbeaten streak intact. And in New Jersey, third-place Washington will take on fourth-place Gotham FC, with both teams attempting to extend multi-game unbeaten streaks.

A six-point gap has opened between the fifth and sixth spot on the NWSL table — with just six points also separating the league's top five. Kansas City, Orlando, Washington, Gotham, and Portland have recently proven themselves to be a cut above the rest of the competition. With eight postseason spots up for grabs and half the season behind us, a pattern is forming that indicates the playoff race could come down to spots six through eight on the NWSL table.

Of those top five teams, only Orlando faces an opponent in the bottom half of the league this weekend: The Pride will take on 14th-place Utah, who nonetheless are coming off a win — just their second of the season — over Bay FC last weekend.

But despite Kansas City and Orlando having yet to lose a game, Gotham might be the squad coming into the weekend with the most momentum.

Clutch goals from Rose Lavelle and rookie Maycee Bell gave the Bats a 2-0 midweek win over San Diego on Wednesday, in a rematch of the 2024 Challenge Cup. Gotham's unbeaten streak dates all the way back to April, as rising availability and sharpened form have honed this year's superteam into a contender.

Bottom line? As the NWSL season passes the halfway mark, some matches might begin to feel more like playoff previews than mere regular season battles.

Chelsea Gray Returns From Injury in Aces Win Over Seattle

las vegas aces chelsea gray and kelsey plum celebrate a win over the seattle storm
Gray has been sidelined with a foot injury since the 2023 WNBA Finals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Chelsea Gray made her return to the basketball court on Wednesday, helping the Aces to a 94-83 win over the Seattle Storm. 

The lauded point guard missed the first 12 games of the season, having been injured in last year’s WNBA Finals. The left foot injury caused her to miss Game 4 of the championship series, and she’s continued to rehab it through the beginning of the 2024 season. 

Her return on Wednesday was capitalized by the fact that she needed just 20 seconds to make an impact and record her first assist. While she finished with just one point, she had seven assists, four rebounds, and two blocks to go alongside it in 15:30 minutes. Gray's contributions on the night brought her career assist record up to 1,500.

"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said after the game. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for Las Vegas, who have lost five of their last seven games. Gray, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 2023, has proven herself a much-needed addition to the team’s lineup.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said when asked how she felt hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

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