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Carson Pickett becomes first player with limb difference to play for USWNT

Carson Pickett is the oldest field player to start in her first cap for the USWNT. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Carson Pickett made history Tuesday, becoming the first player with a limb difference to appear for the U.S. women’s national soccer team.

A defender with the North Carolina Courage of the NWSL, Pickett was born without a left hand and forearm.

She’s also the fifth player to debut for USWNT in 2022 and the 15th player head coach Vlatko Andonovski to earn a first cap. At 28, Pickett is the oldest USWNT player to make a national team debut since McCall Zerboni did so at 30 in 2017.

She’s the oldest field player to ever start in her first appearance for the USWNT.

Pickett played all 90 minutes in the 2-0 win against Colombia starting in place of Emily Fox. Fox’s minutes are being limited ahead of the Concacaf W Championship as her 441 minutes played so far in 2022 are the second-most on the team.

“Carson did very well in training for us in last week and with the management of minutes for Emily Fox that we had, we felt like Carson would be a good replacement, and I’m happy that she was able to perform well for 90 minutes,” Andonovski told ESPN.

Pickett called the opportunity a “dream come true.”

The defender, who recently made her 100th NWSL appearance with the Courage and was named to the NWSL’s Best XI for June, went viral in 2019 when she “arm-bumped” a young fan with a similar limb difference. She’s also worked with Nike to create a soccer cleat without laces.

“My parents have two hands and two arms and unfortunately they weren’t able to teach me how to tie my shoes,” Pickett told CBS Sports. “I can imagine that it does feel heartbreaking, looking at your daughter and trying to tie her shoes and it’s hard for you to be there for her. There were definitely times where I cried, and just couldn’t figure it out, and they kept pushing me. Tying my shoes was almost impossible, it did seem impossible, but I overcame it.”

Following the victory over Colombia, the USWNT now heads to Monterrey, Mexico, for the Concacaf W Championship. That tournament will determine four automatic berths to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as one berth to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Pickett, though, will not join the team in Mexico. She, Sam Coffey and Jaelin Howell joined the USWNT as extra players for the two international friendlies against Colombia but did not make the 23-player roster for the Concacaf W Championship.