The short June FIFA window, giving national teams the opportunity to schedule international friendlies and allowing the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to travel to Scandinavia for matches against Sweden and Norway, resulted in significant injuries to three key players in the NWSL.
Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage), Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit) all returned to their respective teams after the international break injured, requiring further evaluation for their domestic clubs training staffs before their next NWSL games.
Williams arrived healthy in Sweden coming off superb performances in NWSL play before the FIFA break. After an Alex Morgan injury in the Champions League Final, Jill Ellis, the national team’s head coach, who initially left off the North Carolina Courage forward from the international roster, called Williams to the national team to replace Morgan. It was in training in Sweden where Williams suffered an ankle injury. Williams was shown arriving for the June 8th match against Sweden wearing a walking boot. She didn’t suit up for the game, nor for the June 11th match versus Norway. Her status for Saturday as North Carolina hosts the Boston Breakers is unknown.
Late in the second half in Norway on June 11th, as Lavelle raced towards the ball, stopped in her pursuit of the through ball falling to the ground in agony, grabbing her left hamstring. Lavelle was helped off the pitch and subbed by Carli Lloyd. She scored the only goal in a 1-0 US victory. Later in a social media post, Lavelle posed for a photo sitting on a chair with her hamstring wrapped up and crutches to the side. On Wednesday, the Breakers announced that the midfielder will be out four to six weeks after suffering a strained left hamstring.
Lavelle, the number one overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, has started all eight games in 2017 for Boston and has scored two goals and one assist. Her presence at midfield for the Breakers has energized the Boston offense. The 22-year old rookie was named to both the April and May NWSL Team of the Month.
Pugh was also added to the list of injured players for this weekend’s NWSL games. Pugh was set to start at midfield against Norway on Sunday but suffered a minor ankle injury during warm-ups. She did not play in the international friendly and watched from the bench as the US gained the victory.
Since deciding to turn pro this past April after leaving UCLA, much speculation followed Pugh on what NWSL team she would join or whether she would sign for a European club. She decided to sign with the Spirit, who owned the top spot in the allocation order for national team players. Pugh scored her first goal in the NWSL against the Houston Dash right before the FIFA break, which helped the Washington Spirit get a much-needed win.
The FIFA international window may have given the national team victories over two of its European rivals, but at a cost to its domestic league as three of its stars returned nursing injuries.