Catarina Macario, a USWNT star felled by ACL injury, will miss 2023 World Cup

Catarina Macario, considered one of the brightest young stars in U.S. women’s soccer, has announced that she will not be able to participate in this summer’s World Cup as she continues to recover from a torn ACL she suffered last June.

Macario, now 23 years old, expressed her excitement about her future in football but also shared her sadness about not being physically ready for selection to the U.S. World Cup team.

The injury occurred on June 1, 2022, while Macario was playing for her French club team, Lyon, who were the reigning European champions at the time. She was the leading scorer for Lyon and a key player for the U.S. women’s national team. She had recently become the first American to score in a Champions League final and was expected to be a breakout star at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Following the injury, Macario underwent surgery, and there was hope that she would recover in time for the World Cup, which was scheduled for 13 months later. However, her recovery has taken longer than anticipated.

In February, U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski provided an update on Macario’s progress, stating that she was doing well and expected to start team training with Lyon in mid-February, with the hope of playing for her club team in the second half of March. However, by April, Macario had not returned to Lyon and was still in Qatar, undergoing rehabilitation at Aspetar, a renowned sports medicine facility.

Despite her aspirations to play in the World Cup, Macario acknowledged that her health and readiness for the upcoming club season were the top priorities. Her contract with Lyon was set to expire, and she is reportedly set to sign with Chelsea, the likely champions of the 2022-23 Women’s Super League in England.

Macario expressed gratitude towards Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital for their support during her rehabilitation and towards U.S. Soccer and Vlatko Andonovski for prioritizing her long-term health over immediate individual and team ambitions.

The absence of Macario, known for her creativity and goal-scoring ability, will be felt by the USWNT in Australia and New Zealand, where the World Cup will take place starting on July 20. With Mal Swanson also sidelined due to a severe knee injury, the U.S. team will be without two of its top attacking threats as they aim for a third consecutive World Cup title. The likely front three for the U.S. will consist of Sophia Smith, Alex Morgan, and Trinity Rodman, while 18-year-old rookie Alyssa Thompson will have a genuine opportunity to secure a spot in the 23-woman roster after making a strong impression in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Macario’s next major tournament debut may now come at the Paris Olympics next summer.

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