United States women’s national team goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher is now fully recovered from the right knee injury she sustained during the Tokyo Olympics, adding that she returns with a newfound appreciation for the “cruel” sport.
During the 1-0 semifinal loss to Canada in July 2021, Naeher collided with a teammate while attempting to intercept a crossing pass. The veteran goalkeeper suffered a severe injury to her right knee as a result, forcing Naeher to undergo extensive rehab stints.
But now, she has returned.
"I'm 100%. No restrictions. I'm not holding anything back," she told reporters from training camp in Austin, Texas.
"So now it's just getting back up to speed. It has been a long recovery. I'm excited to get back in with the group, put my head down and get back to work."
The goalkeeper admitted that the injury forced her to see a new side to the sport, teaching her a lot of lessons.
"This game can be kind of cruel, to go from such a high to such a low that quickly," she said.
"So for me, it's about not taking anything for granted. You never know when an injury is going to pop up, so it's about enjoying every part of it. Enjoying every training session, every meeting, every physical therapy session. I'm grateful for the people that helped me over the last six months. The people who helped me to get back to me."
The USWNT is currently at a training camp, running from January 19-28. No friendlies are currently scheduled in conjunction with the gathering, but head coach Vlatko Andonovski is likely to be analyzing players ahead of the SheBelieves Cup in February.