AUCKLAND, New Zealand — United States women’s national soccer team midfielder Andi Sullivan said she was “devastated” over injured teammate Christen Press, who is facing a fourth operation as she tries to bounce back from a torn cruciate ligament get.
The 34-year-old Press was a key player for USA’s 2019 team that won their second consecutive World Cup, including scoring a crucial goal in the 2-1 semi-final win over England.
But in June 2022, she tore her right cruciate ligament while playing for Angel City FC and subsequently struggled to get back on the field, having since undergone multiple surgeries.
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Press broke the news of her recent setback on Instagram, and said her surgeon and physical therapist told her in February to give up dreams of being included in the World Cup squad. And yet she said: “Up until the announcement of the squad, not a day went by in the last year that I didn’t think I could be part of it.”
“My days are mostly good,” Press later added. “I’m working toward my goal. And despite the fact that this is an athlete’s recovery nightmare on paper, in my heart I feel that climbing the mountain is the dream – yes, even again.”
27-year-old Sullivan, who is about to compete in a world championship for the first time, went through her own cruciate ligament rehabilitation while playing at Stanford College in 2016 and said she couldn’t help but sympathize with what Press is experiencing.
“After going through a cruciate ligament tear and recovery, that’s hard enough on its own,” Sullivan told reporters Tuesday. “And fortunately, my return went largely smoothly. When I read that post – yesterday I think – my heart ached for her.”
“I think every time you’re injured it’s hard enough because of the uncertainty when you say that’s the schedule and it’s a lot harder when you think it’s going to be a certain amount of time and there are obstacles that change that,” she continued. “I am devastated for her and her ability to continue to inspire hope for herself is so admirable. And she’s been such an important part of this team on and off the field for years.”
‘Legacy’ is a word that comes up often in relation to the women’s team when it comes to the winning mentality passed on to future generations. Sullivan noted that the press was “a big part of it,” as were others.
“We know that it’s the 23 of us who are going to make it, but we also know that there are so many other people who have prepared us for this cycle in the past and in the future,” Sullivan said.
“So I think, yeah, we love Press, and we wish her a full recovery, and we miss her and we love her.”
Injuries have had a big impact on this US team and could play a role in the course of the World Cup.
Though Press was fighting for a spot at the time of her injury, injuries are missing potential winger Mallory Swanson, forward Catarina Macario, captain and centre-back Becky Sauerbrunn and midfielder Samantha Mewis from the squad.