The USWNT’s chances of winning the upcoming FIFA World Cup continue to shift as star player Mallory Pugh Swanson was injured during a friendly game against Ireland this weekend. Swanson colluded with Ireland defender Aoife Mannion during Saturday’s game, going down and immediately clutching her knee. She was subsequently loaded onto the cart and taken to the hospital.
Since the initial injury, it’s been announced that Swanson suffered a torn patella tendon in her left knee. This was not the first injury for Swanson in the Saturday game. She also collided with the Ireland goalkeeper, Courtney Brosnan. She was checked for a head injury on the field and deemed okay to continue playing. Nonetheless, the decision to return to play was very controversial because of the intensity of her collision. On top of two collisions in one game, Swanson was already sporting a black eye after getting hit with a ball to the face during a training session the day before.
Initially, US Soccer made it clear that they were unsure whether she would be having surgery for her injury. But yesterday, she posted an image of her celebrating a goal on her Instagram with the caption: “This is hard. I’m in shock and don’t have much to say other than, thank you to everyone for the messages. I feel the love and prayers, and holding them close to my heart. Surgery this morning was a success. I’m thankful for my trainers, doctors, coaches, and teammates for their help throughout this process. The beauty out of all of this, is that God is always good. He’s got me and always has ♥️” With a successful surgery in the books, now Swanson must start the long road to recovery before she can try to get back on the national team.
As of right now, it appears almost 100% certain Swanson will miss the 2023 Women's World Cup. Her estimated recovery is six months, and the tournament is in less than 100 days. At the best, she will be ready to play in August –during the second half of the tournament– with an accelerated recovery plan. The only thing now that could allow for her to play in July would be if the intensity of the tear is only partial and if she continued with an accelerated recovery.
This World Cup was set to be Swanson’s second World Cup appearance. She played in the 2019 tournament as the second-youngest player on the USWNT. Throughout the games, she played three times in the group stage play. While she was still a rookie in 2019, Swanson scored in all three matches of the 2023 SheBelieves Cup and was subsequently named MVP of the tournament.
No matter her recovery speed, Swanson will be missed by the USWNT staff, players, and fans in upcoming games. The USWNT released a press statement stating that Alyssa Thompson would be replacing Swanson on the 23-woman training camp roster and against other teams in friendlies leading up to the World Cup in July. Only time will tell how Thompson works with the team and if the USWNT can recover from losing an influential team member this close to soccer’s biggest tournament.
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