How does Catarina Macario’s injury affect the creation of the USWNT roster?

The US women’s team has a gap in Catarina Macario’s size to fill its roster ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers.

Macario announced on Sunday that she tore her ACL in the final match of the Ligue 1 season in Lyon. Pere Lyon, Macario is expected to be sidelined for six months.

The 22-year-old was a lock for the team’s No. 9 role. Her absence shakes the USWNT’s frontline ahead of the CONCACAF W Championships in July, which will determine the four teams in the region for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

What does Makario’s injury mean to the USWNT roster

With the star attacker out for an extended period of time, the door opens in a USWNT attack. Macario has been playing as the striker for the United States, along with Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith most recently.

The two most likely replacements for Macario are Alex Morgan and Ashley Hatch, who have played ninth for the national team in the past.

Morgan was a mainstay on the team, alternating with Carli Lloyd as the true No. 9 at the Tokyo Olympics. The veteran striker also appears to be going through something of a renaissance with the San Diego NWSL wave this season, as he has scored eight goals, four of them from seven games.

Hatch, an NFL Golden Boot winner, also saw minutes for USWNT under coach Vlatko Andonovsky, scoring four goals in her eight games with the team.

Macario and Morgan in particular present very different positions in the ninth place.

The Lyon star is notorious for merging brilliantly with the players around her, as Macario and Rose Lavelle begin to develop a relationship in the USWNT offensive. Macario can also easily exploit space in the final third, creatively shaking defenders while doing so.

On the contrary, Morgan is a clinical striker, known for standing behind defenders and meticulously dividing the defense line.

Should Morgan – or Hatch – enter the front line with Pugh and Smith, the USWNT midfield will likely take a different shape.

Ashley Sanchez, who has gotten a few USWNT calls, may seem more important to Andonovsky. The attacking midfielder can connect with two players in the final third, and provide a boost of creativity in front of the net. Her familiarity with fellow Washington Spirit Hatch may be a selling point for the midfielder’s inclusion in the World Cup qualifying list.

Macario’s absence also leaves space on the frontline for Trinity Rodman or Margaret Pierce to run somewhere on the wings. Christen Press can also be in the mix to provide a veteran presence in a youthful lineup.

USWNT will return to the field on June 25, when the team will face Colombia in their first two friendlies. The CONCACAF W Championship kicks off on July 4th.

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