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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.