Injuries and extended absences have taken a toll on the U.S. women’s national team as the reigning world champions prepare for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

As head coach Vlatko Andonovski continues to evaluate players before naming a final roster next summer, we take a look at recent USWNT mainstays on the outside looking in and where they stand in the run-up to the biggest tournament in women’s soccer. At the top of our list: Sam Mewis.

Position: Midfielder
Total caps: 83
Most recent USWNT appearance: Aug. 5, 2021 vs. Australia (Tokyo Olympics)

What is her track record with the USWNT?

The midfielder received her first call-up to the national team in 2014. By 2016, she was selected as an alternate for the Olympic team, and by 2018, she had established herself as a mainstay on the roster.

Mewis started five of the USWNT’s seven matches at the 2019 World Cup. She recorded two assists at the tournament, but her contributions went beyond the score sheet. Her 43 recoveries ranked second only to teammate Crystal Dunn, who had 45.

She figured heavily in the lineup again at the Tokyo Olympics.

What is keeping her off the roster?

Mewis underwent arthroscopic surgery on her right knee in August 2021. At the time, she was expected to be out for up to eight weeks. More than 17 months later, she remains on the sidelines.

In January, she had another surgery on the same knee, she announced on Jan. 30.

“I’ll be starting my rehab at home where my family can support me,” Mewis wrote. “I gave everything I had after my last procedure in 2021. This has been a really difficult time for me personally and I’ve been devastated to be away from soccer for so long.”

The 30-year-old midfielder was traded to the NWSL’s Kansas City Current ahead of the 2022 season, but she only played in two preseason Challenge Cup matches in March 2022. The Current placed her on the season-ending injury list in August with a “long-standing progressive injury to her right leg suffered prior to her arrival in Kansas City.”

While she was named to the USWNT roster last March ahead of friendlies against Uzbekistan, she later was ruled out due to her continuing recovery from “a knee issue,” per U.S. Soccer.

When will she be back?

When Mewis announced her latest knee surgery, she also revealed she does not have a timeline for her return to soccer.

While the exact nature of Mewis’ injury and the timeline for her recovery remain unknown, these factors almost certainly will preclude her from participating in the 2023 World Cup.

“At this point I don’t want to guess what the time is or if she is going to be back at all,” Andonovski said ahead of the team’s two January friendlies against New Zealand. “With Sam, it’s a long-term injury and at this point, you know, we probably would not go into details for that.”

What other players are missing from the USWNT roster?