‘Feels like a dream’ – USWNT’s Macario on return from ACL tear

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United States women’s national team forward Catarina Macario has said her return to regular football after 20 months out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury “feels like a dream.”

The Chelsea player was recently selected for the USWNT for the first time since suffering the injury while playing for Lyon on the final day of the 2021-22 season, and told the Guardian that during her long absence she did fear for her career and was grateful for the support of her club’s staff.

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“I did at times think: ‘Will I be able to play at that level again?’ There were definitely a lot of doubts,” the 24-year-old said. “They just reassured me a lot.

“A lot of times I didn’t believe them. That’s why now everything just feels like a dream, like a miracle.”

Macario scored in her first game back from the injury in a 4-0 win over Leicester on March 3, and said she appreciated the reaction of her teammates in that moment.

“My first game back I was able to score and you could see the joy in everyone. That meant so much,” she said.

“Even though we had trained together for a while, it felt like such a big celebration. It really was such a genuine moment and so emotional too that I could literally not imagine being part of another team.”

Chelsea take on Arsenal at Molineux Stadium on Sunday in the Conti Cup final — a repeat of last year’s equivalent, which Arsenal won at Selhurst Park.

Macario came off the bench in Chelsea’s comfortable 3-1 win over their long-standing rivals on March 24 and is under no illusion as to the importance of Sunday’s clash.

“It is a big derby, I guess it would be even more special if we were able to win it against Arsenal, but no matter who it’s against, no matter what game, we want to win,” she said.

“I don’t think my teammates need to really tell me how much it means, we’re all competitors and what we want to do every single day is win, compete, dominate and set the Chelsea standard.”

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