SANFORD, Fla. — Midfielder Emily van Egmond will miss the rest of the NWSL season with the Orlando Pride after suffering an ankle injury during the World Cup.
Van Egmond started all four games for Australia during the team’s run in the World Cup. She hurt her left ankle during those games and pain lingered when she returned to Orlando and rejoined the Pride.
The midfielder tried to muscle through the pain for several weeks, playing a full 90 minutes against Washington and Portland. After hiding the injury for almost a month, however, she told the club about it.
The coaching staff had also noticed her flexibility was reduced and her tackles were lacking their typical strength. Coach Marc Skinner met with van Egmond last week before the team’s match against the Houston Dash, making the decision to end her season so that she could pursue surgery and begin the rehabilitation process.
“It was a tough one,” Skinner said. “She’s a tough character and she doesn’t want to show any signs of weakness. That tells you a lot about [her] character.”
Although Skinner notes that he believes van Egmond could have played through the injury for the rest of the season, he said it wasn’t worth the risk to the player’s health. He added that the staff had to urge van Egmond to be more aggressive and step harder throughout the weeks following her injury, a change from her typically assertive style of play.
For the Pride, the team’s focus is on getting van Egmond healthy for the 2020 season.
“It’s more of that psychological ability to breathe and become the player that she is when she comes back again,” Skinner said. “I know she’ll come back even stronger and better for it. Then she can strike the ball again, she can tackle the ball again.”
Van Egmond has returned home to Australia, where she will undergo surgery and begin recovery. This process will take place fully in Australia because she was hurt while playing for the national team.
One week after the announcement of Toni Pressley’s breast cancer diagnosis, the loss of van Egmond is another blow to the team’s lineup. Van Egmond has played eight games for the Pride this season, notching one assist.
In her absence, Skinner said that his team will look to its younger players to step up into the hole in the midfield.
“Emily has the ability to see the game before it’s happened,” Skinner said. “She finds space, she creates space. She’ll be a massive miss, but every time we’ve had someone who’s been a miss in our team, it’s a chance for somebody else. We have to focus on that positive.”