Swanson and Macario look to bounce back in action for the USWNT from long term absents

USWNT Training
USWNT Training / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/GettyImages

United States Women’s National Team interim head coach Twila Kilgore has named her 23-player squad for the 2024 SheBelieves Cup, presented by Visa, taking place on April 6 and 9 in Atlanta and Columbus Ohio respectively and was boosted by the inclusion of two long term absentees Mallory Swanson and Catarina Macario.  

Chicago Red Stars Mallory Swanson returns to a game roster for the first time since suffering a major knee injury almost a year ago on April 8, 2023. Swanson returned to full action a few weeks ago and has played in three matches so far this season for the Chicago Red Stars and trained with the USNW team before the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Swanson’s outstanding contribution in last year’s Visa SheBelieves Cup tournament earned her the MVP trophy after scoring in every match while helping her team to the tournament title. 

In a friendly match in preparation for the 2023 Women’s World Cup Swanson ruptured her left patella tendon. As a result, Swanson missed most of the National Women’s Soccer League and lost her spot for the World Cup due to her devastating injury. Swanson was in a purple patch of form prior to her injury, for club and country scoring one goal in two games for club and scoring seven goals in the USWNT's first five games of 2023.  

Mallory Swanson
USWNT Training / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/GettyImages

she was also on fire in 2022 creating havoc with her sublime dribbling skills and her Cameleon-like eye for goal. She scored 15 goals and 6 assists from 22 games for her club. She is set to flourish again under the tutelage of her youth coach Lorne Donaldson. Lorne Donaldson was instrumental in her development as her coach as youth player in Colorado and he also guided Jamaica to a best-ever round of 16 at the 2023 Women's World Cup that Swanson missed out on. Lorne was installed as Chicago Fire’s new head coach in December 2023, while Swanson then committed to a new five-year deal worth over $2 million, making her one of the highest-paid players in the NWSL. 

Speaking at a press conference her coach Kilgore spoke highly of her and said, "I would say that everything that we've layered in so far, which is just the beginning, is a nod to how to get certain players on the ball in areas that they're most comfortable with -- and Mal would definitely be one of them,"  

Wherever Swanson plays, whether it's lone striker, off either wings or sitting deep in the number 10 role, the USWNT will need her, especially if she continues her current path of returning to her pre-injury form. 

Also returning after a long recovery from a major knee injury is forward Catarina Macario. Macario scored twice for USA against Uzbekistan before she was taken off injured on a stretcher on April 12, 2022. Macario left a bitter taste in every defender's mouth and left every fan with their tongue wagging after her amazing run in France with Lyon scoring 23 goals and 7 assist from 34 games. Coupled with her extraordinary club season she won the Visa SheBelieves Cup MVP honors in 2022. Amazingly she was traded to Chelsea on the doctor’s bed.  

Catarina Macario
Arsenal v Chelsea - FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final / James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

  Macario returned to the field a little under two years and for a new club and picked up right where she left off for Chelsea. After her first 7 competitive games she scored twice and assisted twice. She assisted a goal in the Blues’ 3-0-win in the UEFA Women’s Champions League win over Ajax to set up a semifinal with Barcelona. Catarina also set up the final goal in Chelsea’s win over West Ham and she scored a goal each against Arsenal and Leicester City. Marcario scored the fourth goal in a 4-0 trashing of Leicester City on her debut for Chelsea moments after she was introduced in the second half. Macario told Sky Sports: “Finally I’m able to be back on the pitch. It honestly felt like a dream come through, not just to get over the injury but to represent Chelsea for the first time and score a goal.

I was definitely a bit nervous. The girls next to me on the bench could tell and they just told me to have fun. There were a few touches that weren't my best but i was just happy to be out there. When you are out for so long you are just kind of happy you are back on the pitch regardless”. Marario who was born in Brazil and moved to USA at the age of 12 while playing youth football is already a star on the team even though she has only had 17 appearances 8 goals and 2 assist. If given the chance on Saturday one can guarantee that the more than 37,000 tickets that were sold will have something to cheer for. This is the third largest domestic attendance for a non-World Cup, non-Olympic match in U.S. history. The two top attendances on that list both came in the first games back on U.S. soil after winning the World Cup, 49,504 on Aug. 29, 2019, vs. Portugal at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. and 44,028 on Aug. 16, 2015, vs. Costa Rica at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. 

Along with those two long term absentees are two young players who currently plying their trades in Europe in 21-year-old Paris Saint-Germain defender Eva Gaetino and 16-year-old Ajax midfielder Lily Yohannes, both of whom are getting their first senior team call-ups. Gaetino scored the opening goal in PSG’s quarterfinal win over BK Hacken on March 20 while Yohannes started and put in a solid performance against Chelsea. Round out the squad is 19 players from the last camp that won the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.  

Rounding out the roster for this SheBelieves Cup features 17 NWSL players who are at the start of their seasons and six that will come to Atlanta from Europe: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Emily Fox (Arsenal FC), Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain), Macario, Gaetino and Yohannes. All except for Fox play for clubs who are still alive in the quarterfinal round of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. 


GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) 

DEFENDERS (8): Abby Dahlkemper (San Diego Wave FC), Crystal Dunn (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Tierna Davidson (NY/NJ Gotham FC), Emily Fox (Arsenal FC, ENG), Eva Gaetino (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit), Jenna Nighswonger (NY/NJ Gotham FC) 

MIDFIELDERS (6): Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA), Olivia Moultrie (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Lily Yohannes (AFC Ajax, NED) 

FORWARDS (6): Catarina Macario (Chelsea FC, ENG), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave FC), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars)