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Sam Kerr Tears ACL, Becomes Latest Women's Soccer Star Felled By Injury 'epidemic' | TheSportsDay Sam Kerr Tears ACL, Becomes Latest Women's Soccer Star Felled By Injury 'epidemic' | TheSportsDay

Sam Kerr tears ACL, becomes latest women's soccer star felled by injury 'epidemic'

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 01: Sam Kerr of the Matildas celebrates her goal during the AFC Women's Asian Olympic Qualifier match between Australia Matildas and Chinese Taipei at HBF Park on November 01, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Sam Kerr, one of women’s soccer’s brightest stars, tore an ACL during a recent training session and will miss the rest of the 2023-24 season, her club and national team both announced Sunday.

Chelsea said that Kerr suffered the injury during their midseason training camp in Morocco, while preparing for the second half of the English Women’s Super League season over its winter break.

Australia’s soccer federation simultaneously confirmed that Kerr had “ruptured” the knee ligament, and would face an “extended period on [the] sidelines.”

The injury, which almost always requires surgery, usually requires at least six months of rehab, and often closer to 12. Australia said there is “no current timeframe for her return to football.”

It’s the second cruel setback in six months for Kerr, Australia’s captain and the face of the team that captivated an entire continent at the 2023 World Cup. On the eve of that tournament, which in many ways should have been hers, Kerr suffered a calf injury that robbed her of the entire group stage.

She returned to score an unforgettable semifinal goal, then set her sights on more trophies at Chelsea, plus the 2024 Olympics. But all of that is now shrouded in injury doubt. The Olympic soccer tournament kicks off July 25 in France. Kerr would have to complete her recovery in about seven months.

Her injury is also the latest in a long line of torn ACLs that have plagued women’s soccer and felled superstars in recent years. Six of the world’s top 16 players tore the ligament between June 2022 and April 2023; five missed the World Cup because of it. Doctors and others in and around the sport increasingly refer to the prevalence as an “epidemic.”

It has left all of those stakeholders scrambling for answers. The search for cures, which began in the late 20th century, initially focused on biomechanics. It now spans “gendered environments” and a sport, women’s soccer, whose working conditions have lagged behind its rising physical demands.

Kerr’s injury immediately prompted renewed calls for more research and urgency. And it hurt teammates, who know they’ll likely be without their leading scorer and tone-setter as they chase gold in Paris.

“Absolutely gutted for you my friend,” Australia teammate Caitlin Foord wrote on Twitter.

“No words,” Steph Catley, another Australian veteran, wrote alongside a broken heart emoji. “Here with you every single step.”

Kerr’s Chelsea teammates reacted similarly. They lead the WSL after 10 games, and could win a fifth consecutive domestic title without her. But their eyes are also on the Champions League, an elusive trophy that just became that much harder to win in 2024.

In Kerr’s absence, the Blues will likely turn to two American forwards. Recent U.S. national team debutant Mia Fishel has been Kerr’s backup. And Cat Macario signed with the London club this past summer — though she still hasn’t returned from an ACL injury suffered on June 1, 2022.

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