USWNT's Andi Sullivan 'crushed' over Christen Press' injury

'It's a perfect combination' Mewis on the USWNT roster (1:37)

USWNT's Alyssa Naeher and Kristie Mewis talk about the squad's combination of 14 World Cup debutants and experienced players. (1:37)

AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- United States women's national soccer team midfielder Andi Sullivan said she is "crushed" for injured teammate Christen Press, who is facing a fourth surgery as she attempts to come back from a torn ACL.

Press, 34, was a key player on the 2019 U.S. team that won its second consecutive World Cup, including scoring a critical goal in the 2-1 semifinal win over England.

But she tore her right ACL in June 2022 while playing for Angel City FC and subsequently struggled to get back on the field, having had multiple surgeries since.

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Press posted the news of her latest setback on Instagram, stating that her surgeon and physical therapist told her in February to let go of the dream of making the World Cup roster. And yet, she said, "Until the roster was announced, there wasn't a day that passed over the last year that I didn't believe I could be there."

"My days are mostly good," Press later added. "I'm working toward my goal. And despite the fact that, on paper, this is an athlete's recovery nightmare, I feel in my heart that to climb the mountain -- yes, even one more time -- is the dream."

Sullivan, 27, who is poised to play in her first World Cup, went through her own ACL rehab in 2016 when she was playing collegiately at Stanford, and she said she couldn't help but empathize with what Press is experiencing.

"Having gone through an ACL tear and recovery, that in itself is hard enough," Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday. "And luckily, my return was smooth in the grand scheme of things. So when I read that post -- yesterday, I think it was -- my heart aches for her."

"I think any time that you're injured, the uncertainty of it all, it's hard enough when they say this is your timeline, and it's much harder when you think it's going to be a certain amount of time and there are obstacles that change that," she continued. "I'm crushed for her, and her ability to continue to hold out hope for herself is so admirable. And she's been such an important part of this team on and off the field for years."

Legacy is a word that crops up often with the women's team, with the winning mentality passed down to future generations. Sullivan noted that Press has been "a huge part of that," as have others.

"We know that, yes, it's the 23 of us here who are going to get it done, but also, we know that there's so many more people who have prepared us in this cycle in the past and in the future," Sullivan said.

"So I think, yes, we love Press, and we wish her a full recovery, and we miss her and we love her."

Injuries have had a big effect on this U.S. team and could play a role in how its World Cup goes.

Although Press was fighting for a spot at the time of her injury, the squad will be without would-be starters winger Mallory Swanson, striker Catarina Macario, captain and center back Becky Sauerbrunn and midfielder Samantha Mewis due to injuries.