Christen Press left off USWNT World Cup qualifying roster

Christen Press

Angel City FC’s Christen Press – seen here in a game against the Kansas City Current – was left off the USWNT World Cup qualifying roster after tearing her ACL. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images for Angel City FC)

Christen Press’ NWSL season has come to a premature end due to an ACL tear suffered in Angel City’s match against Racing Louisville.

When the USWNT Concacaf Championship roster was announced on Monday and Press’ name was nowhere to be found, the natural assumption was her injury precluded her from being considered for selection.

As if a season-ending injury wasn’t enough, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski added insult to injury by telling reporters his decision to leave Press off the roster was made prior to her injury. In short, the younger players are outperforming her.

Out with the old, in with the new, has been Andonovski’s motto as of late. It’s an easy decision to support with players such as Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, and Catarina Macario bulldozing their way to stardom at both the club and national team level, but Andonovski has kept on a handful of veterans and Christen Press deserved to be one of them.

From a performance standpoint, Megan Rapinoe’s inclusion in the roster is perhaps the most baffling of all. With no starts and no goals this season for the OL Reign, the once dominant striker is nearing the end of her USWNT tenure.

Rapinoe is a stronger leader than Christen Press

Megan Rapinoe has long been a leading force both on and off the field for the USWNT. Though she’s less likely to make an impact this summer on the field, Andonovski intends to use her off-field leadership strengths to squeeze the best out of the younger players with less experience under their belts.

Meanwhile, she’s eating up a valuable roster spot at a position where competition is fierce. A roster spot better suited for someone who is fit, in great form and is actively leading their team week in and week out. Namely, Christen Press.

Perhaps Press can’t replicate Rapinoe’s leadership on her own, but paired with Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Becky Sauerbrunn, Emily Sonnett and Alyssa Naeher, veterans who continue to prove their on-field worth to the USWNT, couldn’t they all provide the same support and motivation to the youngsters that Rapinoe is expected to give?

As much as I believe Christen Press deserved a roster spot, I realize it’s tough to advocate for her inclusion when her injury makes the matter moot.

Press has enough time to recover and prove her mettle prior to the World Cup roster selection. But if she returns to the game at the level she left it and is left off the USWNT roster again, the incredulous outbursts from USWNT fans will be deafening.