Starting a season with an injury is never the way you want it to go. I’ve been shut down for four weeks now since breaking a bone in my shoulder playing with the U.S. national team against Iceland in the opening game at the Algarve Cup.
I actually haven’t moved up to Buffalo yet, where I’ve been allocated to play with the Western New York Flash of the National Women's Soccer League. After I found out I broke my shoulder, I sat down with my national team staff and figured out what I could do. The short list: riding a stationary bike. Since I had to wait to start my rehab for four weeks and could only ride the bike, we all decided it was best if I just hung at home in New Jersey. I've been able to see my family on Easter, participate in the U.S. Soccer Centennial Week in New York City, spend more time with my boyfriend Brian, hang out with my friends and launch my new website.
I’ve been doing physical therapy about an hour away in Wilmington, Del., with James “Hash” Hashimoto at Elite PT. I worked with him when I broke my ankle in 2010 and it is the best place to rehab -- a lot of the U.S. men’s national players fly there when they are injured. So I’m getting good care and as soon as I’m ready and cleared, I’ll head up to New York for the season. There’s already an apartment waiting for me in Buffalo, where we'll live and train.
It's a bummer to have missed out on preseason and a Germany trip with the national team, and to be sitting out the first few games of the season, but getting injured is all part of the job. This injury could have been a lot worse -- luckily, it was not a rotator cuff or labrum tear. I know that when I am cleared I will be super ready to meet my teammates and work as hard as I can each and every day.
For now I just have to let my shoulder heal, and I’ll be back in no time. Luckily I already know a lot of my "new" teammates -- Abby Wambach, Sarah Huffman, Angela Salem and Katherine Reynolds -- since I've played with them at different times during my career. And it’s always funny to team up with a former rival -- I’m pretty sure Veronica Perez, who plays for Mexico, scored the winning goal against us in the 2011 World Cup qualifier. But it’s just one of those things: When you’re rivals, you play against each other, and obviously when you’re teammates it all changes.
Then there are some names on the roster I didn’t even know, so I’m excited to get up there and get to know everyone. I think the new NWSL is going to help give us some continuity, and we will really get the chance to feel like a team, rather than the old system in which the national team players were often gone at training camps for the World Cup and Olympics, and were flying in just for the weekend games. It’s a better model, and hopefully it sustains.
I’ll go up Sunday to watch the team play against New Jersey's Sky Blue at my alma mater, Rutgers, and then I have around four more weeks of rehab before I move up to New York. Thankfully with the injury to my shoulder, I’m able to run now and get myself fit again. I am still about two to three weeks away from starting strength exercises to get my arm stronger. Right now, the focus is on decreasing my pain and getting my range of motion back.
For me personally, I feel like I’m coming off a good Olympics, I did well in the 10 victory tour games, and I’ve continued to progress my game. My goal is to go out, have a solid season, play consistently and work as hard as I can each and every day. I want to show that not only can I play well on the national team, but I can play well in this league.
Needless to say, it's a long season. There are going to be injuries, there are going to be ups and downs, games where we lose and ones we win. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So if we can approach each game and do our best to go out and work hard for one another -- and enjoy it -- I know good things will happen.