With Angel City FC hitting a goal-scoring rut of late, Christen Press did just what her team needed her to do on Saturday, scoring an equalizer and then assisting on a go-ahead goal at Racing Louisville before the unthinkable happened.
With about 30 minutes to play, Press attempted her trademark “release valve” move of taking the ball at any point on the field and dribbling out of a jam. But this time, it was unsuccessful twice over. After being stripped inside Angel City’s box, the play subsequently drawing a penalty for Racing, Press crumpled to the ground and grabbed her knee, exiting the game immediately and spotted on crutches getting on the bus after the game.
In the game itself, the team stood tall, weathering the Louisville penalty going in to make it 2-2, before Angel City drew a late penalty of their own and converting it to grab a 3-2 win on the night. At least they got the win, but the nerves about Press’ condition are ongoing until we hear news of a prognosis or timeline she’ll be out.
On Monday, the plot thickened, with Press omitted from the 23-player roster for the Concacaf W Championship for the United States. While Press’ injury may be severe enough that it would have forced her to miss the tournament anyway, The Washington Post’s Steven Goff reported that Press would not have been selected for the W Championship squad even if she had not gotten hurt over the weekend, something that was subsequently confirmed by USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski.
“Christen Press was not on the roster even before the injury,” Andonovski told reporters during a conference call on Monday. “We’re very sorry for her injury and don’t have confirmed information on the significance of the injury. We just hope it’s not too serious.”
While Press had not been part of the USWNT since the Tokyo Olympics and its subsequent friendly tour, along with most of that squad, as Andonovski opted to give younger players a chance in friendlies and the She Believes Cup, he did recall several of the old guard for the W Championship, including Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, all of whom had also been absent from the program since the Olympics.
Andonovski went on to explain the reason Press was not selected to the tournament was that she effectively has been beaten out by several other players.
More from Andonovski on Press: "I think that she's performing well but it's not just her now, it's her competing with the players that are in front of her... it's also out-perform the players that she is competing against. It's not easy to be a forward in the U.S. right now."— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) June 13, 2022
In response, the initial reaction online has been somewhat incredulous to Andonovski’s explanation. Press has four goals and one assist (plus an own goal she set up that doesn’t show up on the box score) in 13 games for Angel City across all competitions. She’s tied for fifth in the league in shots taken in the regular season, and while everyone would hope she would have scored more than two regular season goals by now, it’s not for lack of trying — it’s been pretty plain to see that Angel City’s chance creation has been lacking until the game at the weekend, in which she took matters into her own hands.
Of course, it’s kind of moot if Press has to miss time, which seems pretty likely, and at this point, we’re on pins and needles waiting to see what a prognosis and timeline will be for her injury. And if it’s not too bad (one can hope!) this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as the USWNT will effectively miss a full month with their club teams, and it’s theoretically possible that she could be back in action with Angel City before the internationals return. But we’ll have to see what happens.
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