Striker Mallory Swanson is in a “good place” even though uncertainty surrounds her World Cup participation after she tore a patella tendon during Saturday’s 2-0 win over Ireland, United States head coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
While the rest of the American team will continue their World Cup build-up by facing Ireland for the second time in four days on Tuesday night in St. Louis, Missouri, the absence of the team’s talismanic striker continues to be cause for concern after she had to be carried off on a stretcher just three months before the finals kick off.
“She’s stronger than me,” said Andonovski. “She said that all she wants is for the team to be successful and that she’s going to be our biggest supporter.”
Swanson was poised to be a key figure in the Americans’ title defense after scoring seven goals for the national team in 2023, but now faces a race against time to get fit for the tournament that kicks off on July 20 in New Zealand.
The four-times champions will face Ireland in their final match before Andonovski names his 23-player squad.
“The depth chart will probably change a little bit for unfortunate reasons,” Andonovski told reporters.
“Even though we have pretty good idea of where the players are at and their abilities, we’re still going to have to look a little bit deeper because no one expected what happened in the last game.”
A spokesman for U.S. Soccer said Swanson had not yet undergone surgery and declined to elaborate on a timeline for her recovery.
“I can say here, ‘Oh, no, we’re great.’ No, she’s a great player. You don’t replace Mallory (Swanson) that easy. We all know that,” Andonovski said.” But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in this job, (it) is how to deal with the difficulties.”
The United States called up Alyssa Thompson as Swanson’s replacement after the 18-year-old made her senior national team debut in October.
“She’s an exciting player,” said Andonovski. “She accelerates with the ball and runs at defences with confidence.”
She joins veteran forwards Alex Morgan and Lynn Williams at the camp, along with younger talent including last year’s U.S. Female Player of the Year Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman.
Swanson’s injury also raises the possibility of 2019 Ballon d’Or winner Megan Rapinoe, who missed the April camp with a minor leg injury, playing a greater role on the field.
Rapinoe will be aged 38 by the time the World Cup kicks off and had been settling into a mentoring role for younger strikers, including 22-year-old Smith and 20-year-old Rodman, while spending less time on the pitch.
“The first thing for (Rapinoe) is we want (her) to be back healthy, we want to see her back on the field,” said Andonovski.
Source: Japan Times