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SheBelieves in a Comeback: Mallory Swanson and Catarina Macario

With the SheBelieves Cup kicking off earlier today, Mallory Swanson and Catarina Macario are looking to make their returns to the USWNT lineup. Both Swanson and Macario suffered long-term injuries that kept them on the sidelines during the U.S.’ recent tournaments including the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The countdown begins as both players will have significant ground to cover to attempt to make the upcoming summer Olympic roster. 

Photo by Elyanna Garcia for WSX

Mallory Swanson

Prior to injury, Swanson was in stellar form for both club and country, including earning the 2023 MVP award in her last SheBelieves Cup and being a regular goal-scorer for the Chicago Red Stars. Swanson’s immaculate momentum was thwarted by a torn patella tendon in April of 2023, in an international friendly against Ireland. 

Initially, Swanson aimed to be a part of the U.S.’ World Cup squad, but further complications extended her recovery timeline leading to her missing the World Cup. Swanson played her first match back from injury on March 16 for her club team, the Chicago Red Stars, and scored her first goal against the Orlando Pride in only her third match back.

The addition of Swanson back in with the USWNT adds more depth to the front lineup. Swanson is a wide forward who can also drift centrally to attack often opting for a fluid role for club, and as a left winger for country. The U.S.’ left wing is stacked with talents that could make a breakthrough for Swanson more challenging. 

Swanson’s creativity, linkup play and striking quality give her an edge that makes a case for her return to a starting position. The biggest obstacle for Swanson aside from general competition is fitness, as she would need to continue building toward handling the intensity of tournament play. The SheBelieves Cup provides another opportunity for Swanson to build fitness and acclimate to the USWNT environment again, and she certainly demonstrated in today’s match against Japan that she’s barely missed a beat.

Catarina Macario

Macario amassed star power and success for the USWNT and her former club Olympique Lyonnais including breakout performances for the U.S. and winning the UEFA Women’s Champions League before her injury. Macario tore her ACL in June of 2022 in her final match with Olympique Lyonnais, and has endured a 21-month recovery to return to the field. 

Despite the considerable time frame Macario has missed, her return displayed the quality she is known for. After a summer transfer to Chelsea, Macario played her first match in 641 days against Leicester City and scored within six minutes of being on the pitch. Since her debut, Macario has scored two goals including her debut, and logged an assist in the UWCL. 

An explosive return leaves big expectations for Macario for both club and country. Macario is a versatile attacker that plays best as a false nine, but can also slot in as a wide forward or attacking midfielder. Across the numerous positions Macario can play, competition is tight for a spot in the midst of her long absence. As a center forward, she brings creativity, flair and lethal finishing which extends to her quality all over the pitch. 

Similarly to Swanson, Macario needs to log minutes to be in consideration for an Olympic roster spot. Macario has yet to start in any of her matches for club and has not yet played a full 45-minute performance, which makes her situation more complex in having a healthy showing in the summer. In her first tournament for the U.S. since her injury, this is Macario’s chance to make a bold statement and continue on her path back to full fitness.


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