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How the USWNT depth chart is adjusting to injuries ahead of the World Cup – Equalizer Soccer



Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Only eight weeks remain until the first match of the 2023 World Cup kicks off, but U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski is still facing some uncertainty regarding his World Cup roster.

On Tuesday, forward Catarina Macario announced that she has removed herself from World Cup selection due to the setbacks she’s faced recovering from the ACL tear she suffered last June. Despite hopes that she would rehab in time for the tournament, she has yet to take the field competitively in almost a year. Tuesday also brought the news that midfielder Rose Lavelle might not get any club minutes ahead of the World Cup, thanks to a setback in her recovery from an unspecified knee injury.

These two injuries are worrying enough, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg in terms of injuries the team has faced over the past couple of years. Players are out or of a questionable fitness level across all lines, but with the United States talent pool as deep as it is, there are plenty of choices Andonovski can make to round out the squad.

It’ll be another month or so before the roster is revealed, but here’s a rundown of the biggest challenges the team is facing and what solutions they may find.

Worrying trends

Injuries are an unfortunate fact of life for most professional athletes. What’s been so concerning these past couple of years is the sheer number and severity of the injuries.

In addition to Macario, Mallory Swanson is also out after tearing her patellar tendon this past April. She had been in phenomenal form up until her injury and many people expected her to lead the attack in Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, midfielder Sam Mewis, forward Christen Press and defender Abby Dahlkemper were all key parts of the 2019 World Cup team and all haven’t seen competitive minutes since last year after all facing serious injuries.

Even among players that are shoo-ins, there are questions about fitness. In addition to Lavelle, captain Becky Sauerbrunn has been out with a foot injury for the past few weeks. And although Julie Ertz is back and looking good after more than a year away from the field, we’ve hardly been given a big enough sample size to really gauge her form. And, like Lavelle and Sauerbrunn, she’s also been marked as questionable thanks to what was reported as a thigh injury.

Of course, it’s very possible Lavelle, Sauerbrunn and Ertz are on minutes management specifically to keep them fresh for the World Cup. But the fact three key players need such careful management isn’t exactly confidence-inspiring amidst all the other injuries – especially with so many bubble players also in questionable form. For example, defenders Tierna Davidson and Casey Krueger have had a rough time finding their form after returning from injury. Lindsey Horan hasn’t quite been herself either after rehabbing from a lingering knee issue. Taylor Kornieck has just returned from an extended abdominal injury and Midge Purce has missed games with a hip injury. Although not currently injured, Kelley O’Hara and Megan Rapinoe have been increasingly injury-prone in recent years.

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The last time the United States previously faced even close to this many injuries was when Abby Wambach, Leslie Osborne and Cat Whitehill all missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Wambach broke her leg in a friendly against Brazil while Osborne and Whitehill both suffered ACL tears. Despite a less-than-perfect performance in the final against Brazil, the U.S. did in fact go home with Olympic gold that year off a game-winning goal from budding star Amy Rodriguez in her first major tournament.

Likewise, Andonovski is going to have to look for up-and-coming young talents to be the difference-makers during the World Cup as the U.S. looks to defend its title and compete for a third consecutive championship. Luckily for him, there are quite a few to choose from.

Exploring the depth

Although it seemed unlikely at the beginning of this year, it is increasingly likely that Angel City forward and teenage phenom Alyssa Thompson has worked her way onto the World Cup roster. She’s the closest the United States has to a replacement for Swanson which is evidenced by her being immediately called up to finish the second of the pair of friendlies against Ireland after Swanson was injured during the first leg. Whether Thompson gets significant minutes with players like Alex Morgan, Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith ahead of her is yet to be seen, but there’s no question she’s a player the team will want to build around in the future.

Although not a young up-and-comer, it is as good as certain that Lynn Williams will be on her way to her first World Cup this July. After returning from her own major injury in 2022, she’s come back in excellent form and has five goals in eight games with Gotham. Although the loss of Swanson and Macario will be felt acutely, an attack featuring Smith, Morgan, Thompson, Rodman and Williams is hardly something to sneeze at. Ashley Hatch and Megan Rapinoe are also good bets to step in and round out the group. Although Hatch has been getting called up to the senior team since 2016, this will be her first major tournament, should she get the call from Andonovski.

In terms of midfield depth, both Sam Coffey and Taylor Kornieck have received senior call-ups, although they’ve missed the most recent camps. Coffey has been on a hot streak with the Portland Thorns and notched two assists last week against the Chicago Red Stars. Kornieck is just coming back from injury, but offers versatility across the line, and at 6’1″ she’s the tallest field player in program history which gives her a unique angle no other player can match.

There’s also been increasing noise around whether versatile midfielder Savannah DeMelo is deserving of a call-up to the national team. The Racing Louisville player has been on fire lately and has scored four goals and notched an assist in her last five appearances. With all the questions surrounding the midfield, could DeMelo have a shot at making the roster? Possibly, but Andonovski has said in the past he wants to bring players with senior team experience, and DeMelo, unfortunately, remains uncapped. Only once in United States history has a player with no caps made a World Cup roster – Shannon Boxx in 2003 – so it seems unlikely, but if Lavelle faces an even more severe setback or another player drops in form significantly, DeMelo may find herself on the plane to Australia and New Zealand.

Injuries everywhere

While it’s certainly far from a positive development, the one thing the United States has going for it in terms of injuries is that they’re far from alone in losing key players. Almost every single top team has lost at least one important player, most often to ACL tears. To name just a few, Canada’s Janine Beckie tore hers in the NWSL preseason, England’s Leah Williamson ruptured hers in April, and Dutch star Vivienne Miedema tore hers in November. And just yesterday, it was announced that France’s Delphine Cascarino ruptured her ACL as well. Of these players, only Miedema has a shot at making the World Cup roster, but even if she does, there’s no guarantee she’ll be in top form.

ACL tears are nothing new in women’s sports but as schedules get denser and play becomes more physical and demanding, they seem to be happening more often. While more needs to be done to prevent these injuries in the future, in the meantime, they’ll almost certainly impact how this World Cup ultimately plays out as coaches rework their rosters to accommodate missing players. That’s the task ahead of Andonovski as he’s tasked with finalizing the 23-player roster for the United States and seeing if he can put together another championship squad despite some key pieces missing.

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Macario, Lavelle news; USWNT roster questions – Equalizer Soccer




OL Reign midfielder Rose Lavelle

Photo credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Bekki Morgan and Jeff Kassouf react to the news that Catarina Macario will not be on the roster for the Women’s World Cup, and that Rose Lavelle may not play in the NWSL before the tournament. What can we expect from the U.S. women’s national team midfield this summer? How will Mallory Swanson’s injury impact the forward line?

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Midfield questions remain – Equalizer Soccer




Graphic by Jeff Kassouf, Equalizer Soccer

Catarina Macario will not be fit in time for the 2023 World Cup, Rose Lavelle has not played in going on two months, Taylor Kornieck just returned from an extended layoff, and Julie Ertz is only three league games into her comeback.

What exactly is the United States women’s national team’s midfield going to look like when the team kicks off its World Cup title defense against Vietnam on July 22?

Our latest installment of the USWNT Form Index looks at the central midfielders competing for roster spots. Nowhere do things seem more uncertain right now than in the middle of the park.

This series is an acknowledgment of the fluid nature of the roster right now. Rather than constantly updating a mock roster, we’re checking in on league form and player health, since those will drive decisions in June.

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Pachuca upsets Chivas, controversy in Tijuana loss to Rayadas – Equalizer Soccer




Photo: Club Tijuana Femenil.

The Liguilla is underway in Liga MX Femenil’s Clausura season!

The playoffs kicked off last week in thrilling fashion with lots of goals and plenty of controversy. As always with the Liguilla, matches were split into two legs, one home and one away for each team. There was one upset, with No. 5 Pachuca taking down No. 4 Chivas.

Meanwhile, also advancing with Pachuca is Tigres, Club América and C.F. Monterrey. Here’s a look at what happened in the Liguilla quarterfinals.

Tijuana surprises in Leg 1, sees red in Leg 2

Club Tijuana skirted into the playoffs with a major shock, beating Chivas in the final week of the regular season. Tijuana continued to thrive on momentum, earning a 2-0 win at home to C.F. Monterrey, Angelina Hix, the American striker, scored in the 31st minute after teammate Paola Villamizar slid the ball across the box to Hix for the tap-in. Right before the halftime whistle blew, Adyson Willet — another American, who played her college soccer at Cal State — scored offer a corner kick.

Tijuana went into Leg two with a 2-0 advantage on aggregate, and with confidence bursting. Entering the second match, on the road, Tijuana got an early start, thanks to Monica Alvarado’s header off a long free kick.

However, just seven minutes after scoring a big goal for her side, Alvarado received a red card. The call was a denial of a goal-scoring opportunity, and it went to VAR. After a lengthy check, a red card was shown and Tijuana were down to 10 players for the whole second half.

Monterrey started to pick up with the extra player advantage. In first-half stoppage time, Daniela Solis scored to pull Monterrey within two. However, in the second half, the floodgates opened. Rayadas had goals from Rebeca Bernal, two from Monica Monsivais, another goal from Solis and a final nail in the coffin from Aylin Avilez in second half stoppage time.

After the match, Alvarado said she was “disrespected as a player.”

“I thought the reason to have VAR was to improve decisions made on the field and create fair play,” Alvarado wrote in a statement on Twitter and Instagram. “There needs to be a change to have growth in women’s football. It needs to be better. I’m proud of what our team showed, we will keep our heads up high, and continue to grow and show who we are.”

With the win, Monterrey will move on to the semifinals and face Pachuca on May 25 and May 29.

Pachuca tops Chivas in thriller

If you ever want to talk thrilling matches, back-and-forth contests, then look no further than Pachuca Femenil. If you want a club that will keep your heart racing a mile a minute, then Tuzos is the club for you.

Pachuca saw themselves down 2-0 early in their first leg, home match, against Chivas de Guadalajara. This was a rematch of the Clausura 2022 Final, where Chivas defeated Pachuca for the trophy. And, just 10 minutes into their Leg 1 match, it looked like history would repeat itself. Quick goals from Damaris Godinez and Gaby Valenzuela put Chivas on the board early.

However, Pachuca is a team that doesn’t crack under pressure. Alice Soto pulled one back in the 20th minute with a screamer from the top of the box. Then, in the 43rd minute, Spanish international Jenni Hermoso scored cooly from the penalty spot to equalize as the teams went into the locker rooms.

In typical fashion, stoppage time was where the final tallies took place. Hermoso thought she earned the advantage with a goal in the 90’+1′ minute off a corner kick, taken by Golden Boot winner Charlyn Corral. However, two minutes later, Caro Jaramillo scored the equalizing goal in a six-goal game. Jaramillo found herself open in the box and, with one touch, put the ball past Esthefanny Barreras.

The second leg saw the same back and forth — at least early on. In the 44th minute, Diana Rodriguez scored an own goal, resulting in a Pachuca goal. However, opening the second half, Joseline Montoya made up for her teammate, scoring on a breakaway where three Chivas players faked out goalkeeper Barreras.

However, the second half belonged to Pachuca, with the game-winning goal being scored by Hermoso and a final tally added by Esbeydi Salazar. Pachuca upset their nemesis and move on to the Liguilla semifinals, where they will take on No. 1 Monterrey.

FC Juárez fall in first-ever Liguilla

FC Juárez shook up the table this Liga MX Femenil season, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Club América in the Liguilla. The lower ranked team always hosts the first match, and FC Juárez struggled to contain América at home, losing 1-3 in Leg 1.

Alison González found herself back to hitting her scoring stride, kicking things off with a 9th minute goal off a low free kick that skirted through almost every player inside the box. Kiana Palacios added a goal in the 40th minute to give Club América a nice lead before halftime.

Andrea Hernandez did pull one back for Juárez in the 71st minute, but another América goal from Jocelyn Orejel in the 92nd minute gave Juárez a major mountain to climb in Leg 2. Juárez couldn’t find their footing on the road and lost the second leg, 5-1.

The big storyline in the Leg 2 matchup was González herself, as she hit 100 Liga MX Femenil goals. González scored twice in the win, but it was her second goal in 69th minute, off another free kick, that was goal No. 100. To measure, González is only 21-years-old ,born in 2002. She has played in Liga MX Femenil since Apertura 2018, when she spent one season with Tigres. She joined Atlas before leaving in Apertura 2022 to join América.

Other goals in Leg 2 were scored by Palacios, Andrea Pereira and Andrea Falcon. FC Juárez did get a consolation goal from Mexican-American Jasmine Casarez.

Tigres dominates, and blanks, Atlas

Tigres showed off their dominance to kick off the Liguilla in stellar fashion. Not only did they put up five goals on the road, but altogether Tigres won their quarterfinal matchup against Atlas by scoring seven goals, and keeping a clean sheet.

Lizbeth Ovalle was the MVP of the quarterfinals, scoring a hat trick in Leg 1. She scored twice in the first half of the first leg, and then once in the second half of the same match. Her first goal took an incredible amount of skill, chipping it at a difficult angle in goal.

In the first leg, Belen Cruz and Maricarmen Reyes added goals, as well. In Leg 2, Atlas were able to hold Tigres to only two at home, scored by Liliana Mercado and Stephany Mayor.

Atlas are out of the playoffs, but Tigres will go on to the semifinals and face Club América.

Liga MX Clausura 2023 | Liguilla Semifinals

*All times are Eastern Time Zone.

Leg 1

Friday, May 26: Club América hosts Tigres at 9 PM

Friday, May 26: Pachuca hosts C.F. Monterrey at 11 PM

Leg 2

Monday, May 29: Tigres hosts Club América at 9 PM

Monday, May 29: C.F. Monterrey hosts Pachuca at 11 PM

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