The 2022 World Cup is two months away, but one of the U.S. women's national team's best players remains off the pitch.
Midfielder Rose Lavelle hasn't played since she suffered an apparent knee injury on April 8 that forced her to miss the team's second international friendly against Ireland and likely won't return to her NWSL team, OL Reign, before she joins the USWNT in New Zealand, according to head coach Laura Harvey.
"She was really on track to be back, then she had a little bit of a setback," Harvey said Wednesday. "I would love her to be on the field tomorrow. I don't think that's gonna happen. I hope that we get to see her before the World Cup but honestly, right now I don't know. ... It changes all the time."
While Lavelle has a lot of time before the USWNT's first match versus Vietnam on July 21, her inability to return to the field is a bit worrisome in terms of her getting back into game shape.
If she doesn't suit up prior to the NWSL's June 26 release date for World Cup players, Lavelle will have missed all but two matches for OL Reign this season. The U.S. plays Wales in San Jose, California, on July 9 in a send-off match before they travel to New Zealand ahead of the game against Vietnam.
Lavelle scored three goals in six matches in the 2019 World Cup, including the final goal of the title match to seal a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the USWNT's second consecutive World Cup.
She isn't the only injury the U.S. must deal with before it contends for another title, either. Midfielder Catarina Macario announced Tuesday she will miss the tournament while she continued to recover from a torn ACL she suffered in June. Forward Mallory Swanson (née Pugh) tore the patellar tendon in her left knee in April and will likely miss the World Cup as well.