With the news this week that veteran midfielder Shannon Boxx underwent knee surgery, the list of ailing team members from the U.S. Women’s national soccer team continues to increase. 2013 has been a rough year for the reigning Olympic gold medalists as several members of the team have spent more time rehabbing injuries rather than actually playing soccer.
Boxx underwent exploratory arthroscopic surgery on April 30 on her right knee due to increased pain and swelling over the past several months. Surgery revealed only a small meniscus tear and Boxx is expected to miss approximately 4-6 weeks.
Abby Wambach, current FIFA Women’s Player of the Year missed one game last weekend with the Western New York Flash, the team she currently plays for in the National Women’s Soccer League. Though it was only one game, Wambach drew a lot of attention due to a probable concussion she incurred during a game against the Washington Spirit on April 20. Wambach was struck in the head by the ball during the waning minutes of the game and seemed disoriented immediately following the play per several players in the game. Concern was raised when Wambach was not removed from the game and although Wambach stated she was fine in the days following the incident, she was held out from the WNY Flash home opener as a precaution this past weekend.
Wambach’s teammate in Rochester Carli Lloyd suffered a fracture in her left shoulder earlier this spring during the Algarve Cup in Portugal. An annual tournament for the national team proved costly as not only Lloyd was injured but also Jill Loyden a goalkeeper for the U.S. who fractured her left hand. Lloyd is expected to return to action with the WNY Flash the second week of May while Loyden will most likely miss half the season for her team Sky Blue FC.
Hope Solo, the primary goalkeeper for the national team and regarded as one of the best keepers in the world, had surgery on her left wrist in March. She is also expected to miss at least half of the season with her Seattle based team, The Reign FC. She had surgery to repair torn cartilage in her wrist that had been causing her discomfort for several months.
Defender Amy LePeilbet can be credited with leading the list of injured players as she underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in her left knee in January. Playing through pain throughout most of the last two years, it is the second time that LePeilbet has had her left ACL surgically repaired, the first surgery seven years ago. LePeilbet will miss all of the inaugural NWSL season as rehab for a torn ACL usually takes at least nine months. There is a chance that this surgery could also mean the end of LePeilbet’s soccer career due to the severity of the injury.
Although a large number of the national team is currently pretty banged up, the bright side is that this is an off year for women’s international soccer. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is still two years away and the Summer Olympics are another year beyond that. If national team Coach Tom Sermanni could pick a time for several key members to miss minutes on the pitch, then now is the best time. It also gives Sermanni the opportunity to look at some younger members of the team as he did during the Algarve Cup and give them extended playing time.
Hopefully though this will be the last of the major injuries for the national team. Qualifying for the World Cup will begin in the next several months with Sermanni looking to have his team in top form. And hopefully the rest of 2013 and beyond brings nothing but good health to the American squad.