Spirit Andi Sullivan (12), left and Chicago Red Stars Julie Ertz (8) battle for the ball in the Challenge Cup June 27. (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
HERRIMAN, Utah – Washington Spirit captain and U.S. women’s national team midfielder Andi Sullivan will miss the remainder of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup with a torn medial meniscus in her left knee, as revealed by an MRI scan Sunday afternoon.
The injury was suffered after Sullivan pulled up from a sprint to make a play on the ball during the second half against the Houston Dash Sunday. Sullivan was taken to a nearby hospital for an MRI scan match.
Sullivan will exit the NWSL Village and return to Washington, D.C. for arthroscopic knee surgery to repair the cartilage Thursday, followed by rehab in Sacramento, Calif. Sullivan is expected to miss three to six months of action as she recovers.
“I’m obviously disappointed to not be out there playing, but I’m excited to watch the rest of the tournament and I’m hoping to see my team win it all in the end,” Sullivan said. “I’m hopeful that I can continue to build off of the performances I had in the Challenge Cup after I complete rehab in a few months, and I’m confident that I will come back from this injury stronger.
“I’m grateful to everyone who has reached out to me, asked me how I’m doing and sent good vibes my way. It means a lot, and I will carry those with me throughout my recovery.”
Spirit head coach Richie Burke said he was encouraged by the team’s reaction to Sullivan’s injury and that the squad will play for the midfielder.
“The team is rallying around our captain and incredible leader, and we are now highly motivated to play extra hard in her honor,” he said. “It’s amazing how many well-wishes I’ve received from everyone in football about Andi, and it’s a testimony to her popularity as well as the amount of respect she has from people at the highest levels of the game.
“I’m coming to terms with losing such an influential player for the tournament, but my main thoughts are with Andi and her rehabilitation process. I’m super confident that she will return quickly from this injury as a better, stronger player. Her impact on this team during my time at the club has been immeasurable – and I know she will be pinging me and our players to keep us all on our toes even as she recovers from surgery.”