Portland Thorns' Sophia Smith Joins List of Casualties
Portland Thorns' star forward, Sophia Smith, has recently encountered a minor strain in her medial collateral ligament (MCL), according to an announcement by the team on Wednesday. This occurrence adds her to the growing list of casualties amidst a concerning upsurge of knee injuries observed among professional women's soccer players.
The injury transpired during a pivotal moment just before halftime in the match between Portland and the Washington Spirit, where the 23-year-old member of the U.S. women's national team was in the midst of a challenge. The unfortunate event resulted in a right knee injury for Smith. The situation has been described as "week-to-week" by the team, and she is set to commence a rehabilitation process guided by the Thorns FC sports medicine personnel. It's noteworthy that Sophia Smith was the recipient of the 2022 NWSL MVP accolade.
Presently leading the charts with 11 goals, Smith's contribution to her team has been exemplary. Portland Thorns find themselves at the pinnacle of the standings with five weeks left in the ongoing regular season. Her prowess has also positioned her as a frontrunner in the Golden Boot competition.
The rising trend of knee injuries in the realm of women's soccer is becoming a matter of escalating concern. The Women's World Cup of this year witnessed the unfortunate sidelining of numerous athletes due to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. England's runner-up squad was notably devoid of key players such as captain Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, and Fran Kirby. Comparable impacts were felt across the lineups of other nations including Canada, France, the Netherlands, and the United States.
Studies indicate a stark discrepancy between men and women with regards to ACL injuries. It is proposed that women are between two to eight times more susceptible to experiencing ACL injuries compared to their male counterparts within the same sport. Furthermore, there exists a 25% diminished likelihood for female players to make a successful return post-recovery.
Various hypotheses have emerged to elucidate the higher propensity of ACL injuries among women. These encompass aspects ranging from the usage of footwear designed predominantly for men to anatomical distinctions in female athletes, along with the influence of hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle.
Amidst the growing awareness of this issue, voices such as former Australian forward Sarah Walsh are advocating for greater investments in research endeavors aimed at curbing these injuries. The desire is to uncover strategies and methods that can mitigate the prevalence of knee injuries among women in the world of soccer.