Will USWNT star Christen Press play at the 2023 Women's World Cup? Angel City forward's injury absence explained
U.S. women's national team star Christen Press is one of the world's most talented forwards, winning two Women's World Cup titles with her country and even playing in a Women's Champions League final during her time in Sweden with Tyreso.
However, it's been some time since fans have seen the prolific goal-scorer in action due to a devastating and complicated injury that was sustained in the summer of 2022 and has kept her on the sidelines ever since.
When will Press return to action? Would it be possible to see her play for the USWNT at the 2023 Women's World Cup? GOAL has everything you need to know.
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When did Christen Press suffer her ACL injury?
Press suffered an ACL injury in Angel City's 3-2 win over Racing Louisville on June 12, 2022.
Her team trailed early in the game but turned things around to lead shortly after half time thanks to their star striker, who scored the equaliser and then assisted Savannah McCaskill's goal, Angel City's second of the day.
McCaskill would go on to win the game 3-2 with a stoppage time effort, that coming some 30 minutes after Press had to be helped off the field by her team-mates.
"My heart is broken," Press said on social media as she announced the severity of the injury.
What big games has Christen Press missed through injury?
Date Game Significance October 2, 2022 Chicago Red Stars 2-0 Angel City Angel City's final game of the season October 23, 2022 OL Reign 0-2 Kansas City Current NWSL play-off semi-final February 23, 2023 USWNT 2-1 Brazil USWNT wins 2023 SheBelieves Cup March 27, 2023 Angel City 1-2 Gotham Angel City's season opener
Press' season ending early meant she was unable to contribute to Angel City's charge for a play-off place, missing the team's final 14 games of the campaign as it fell just short of making the post-season.
She also missed the 2023 season opener, a 2-1 defeat to Gotham, with her still not yet back available for her hometown team.
Press has not represented the U.S. since August 2021, her last appearance coming in the bronze medal match at the Olympic Games in which Vlatko Andonovski's side beat Australia to third place, and her injury has meant she has not been able to end that long wait to wear her country's colours again.
When will Christen Press return from injury?
There is no news yet on when Press will return from her injury.
The most recent, detailed update on her situation was provided by the player herself when she appeared on ESPN show Futbol Americas on May 8.
"It has been a unique recovery journey," she said. "I've had some setbacks and I've had some ups and downs. I think that's normal. I think this took a bit longer than I had hoped up until now.
"But I'm in the final stretch of my recovery. I'm starting to feel like myself again, getting my body back. Hopefully I'll be joining the team soon."
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How is the USWNT and Angel City performing without Christen Press?
While any attack would no doubt benefit from the talent and experience that Press can provide, the USWNT is blessed with a plethora of talented forwards right now and that depth is helping to make up for several high profile absentees.
The latest USWNT roster included Alex Morgan, Lynn Williams, Sophia Smith, Ashley Hatch and Trinity Rodman as its forwards. That is with Megan Rapinoe out injured, and Midge Purce and Alyssa Thompson knocking on the door, too. The latter was called up when Mallory Swanson suffered an injury that will rule her out of the World Cup.
With firepower like that, the USWNT was able to beat Canada, Japan and Brazil to win the 2023 SheBelieves Cup.
However, there have been disappointing results and performances ahead of the 2023 Women's World Cup, too, such as the three successive defeats suffered to England, Spain and Germany in late 2022. The latter result saw the USWNT's 71-game unbeaten run at home come to an end.
As for Angel City, the expansion team was in the play-off places before Press sustained her injury but would miss out come the season's end.
It was a good first year for the club, though some star quality from their star striker in the second half of the campaign might have helped it be even better.
Will Christen Press play at the 2023 Women's World Cup?
Before it was confirmed that Press had done her ACL in June, Andonovski was asked about her omission from his CONCACAF Women's Championship roster.
“I think that she is performing well, but it’s not just her,” he said. “For Christen to be back on the field, it’s not just to do well or perform well in her club environment. It’s also to out-perform the players that she’s competing against, like Mal [Swanson] and Sophia Smith and Alex Morgan, Ashley Hatch, Trinity Rodman.
“It’s not easy to be a forward in the United States right now. Obviously it’s great, but it’s not easy because the competition just got bigger and bigger.”
If Press does return to action before the Women's World Cup, she will have to be performing at a level that convinces the coach to pick her over those also competing in the forward areas.
That's not to say Andonovski doesn't understand what value Press can bring to the team. Asked about her again in February, he did note that she has experience that "can be an asset on any team", with the door clearly not shut when it comes to her being brought back in when she is fit.
Press hasn't given up on making the roster, either. "There has never been a moment where I lost hope and that I took my focus off of that World Cup from the moment that I got injured until now," she said on Futbol Americas.
"It's the North Star for all of us professional players and it's a motivation. Obviously, the timing's really tough but I'm doing everything I can to get back as quickly as possible because it would be a dream come true to represent my country again at that level."