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USWNT’s Andi Sullivan ‘crushed’ over Christen Press’ injury

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand — United States women’s national team midfielder Andi Sullivan said she is “crushed” for injured teammate Christen Press, who is facing a fourth surgery as she attempts to come back from a torn ACL.

Press, 34, was a key player on the 2019 U.S. team that won its second consecutive World Cup, including a critical goal in the 2-1 semifinal win over England.

But she tore her right ACL in June of 2022 while playing for Angel City FC, and subsequently struggled to get back on the field, having multiple surgeries since.

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Press posted the news of her latest setback on Instagram, stating that her surgeon and physical therapist told her back in February to let go of the dream of making the World Cup roster, and yet she said, “Until the roster was announced, there wasn’t a day that passed over the last year that I didn’t believe I could be there.”

She later added, “My days are mostly good. I’m working toward my goal. And despite the fact that, on paper, this is an athlete’s recovery-nightmare, I feel in my heart that to climb the mountain – yes, even one more time – is the dream.”

Sullivan, who is poised to play in her first World Cup, went through her own ACL rehab back in 2016 when she was playing collegiately at Stanford, and couldn’t help but empathize with what Press is experiencing at the moment.

“Having gone through an ACL tear and recovery, that in itself is hard enough,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

“And luckily my return was smooth in the grand scheme of things. So when I read that post — yesterday I think it was — my heart aches for her.

“I think any time that you’re injured, the uncertainty of it all, it’s hard enough when they say this is your timeline and it’s much harder when you think it’s going to be a certain amount of time and there are obstacles that change that.

“I’m crushed for her, and her ability to continue to hold out 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 crops up often with the U.S. women’s national team, with the winning mentality passed down to future generations. Sullivan noted that Press has been “a huge part of that,” as have others.

“We know that, yes, it’s the 23 of us here who are going to get it done, but also we know that there’s so many more people who have prepared us in this cycle in the past and in the future,” Sullivan said.

“So I think yes, we love Press and we wish her a full recovery and we miss her and we love her.”

Injuries have had a big effect on this U.S. team, and could play a role in how their World Cup goes.

Although Press was fighting for a spot at the time of her injury, the USWNT will be without would-be starters winger Mallory Swanson, striker Catarina Macario, captain and centerback Becky Sauerbrunn and midfielder Samantha Mewis due to injuries.

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