The Orlando Pride announced today that defender Steph Catley will miss the remainder of the club’s inaugural NWSL season after sustaining a left metatarsal fracture and a right hamstring strain. The Australian international picked up both knocks while representing her country at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where Australia reached the quarterfinals before going out on penalties to host Brazil.
The metatarsal is a long bone located in the foot between the toes and the hind- and mid-foot area. It’s super hard to play soccer with a broken one and thus Catley’s season comes to an unfortunate close, depriving her team of one of the league’s best defenders.
It’s a huge blow to the Pride, who are fighting for a playoff berth with time running out on the season. Catley has arguably been the team’s most valuable player this season and has certainly been among the team’s top performers.
“We know Steph’s disappointed and we’re obviously devastated that we won’t be seeing her in an Orlando Pride shirt again this season,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said in a club press release. “But we’re confident that Steph and our medical team at Orlando Health will work together to have her back and strong for the 2017 season.”
"Obviously it's incredibly disappointing,” Catley said in the club release. “Before going to the Olympics I hadn't missed a minute for the Pride, so it's going to be really hard to watch from the sidelines. I'm so grateful for this amazing club and all of the support from my teammates and the fans that I have already received. I have so much faith in this playing group that we will have a strong end to the season."
The Pride acquired the 22-year-old Catley from the Portland Thorns back on Dec. 10 in exchange for a third-round pick (21st overall) in the 2016 NWSL College Draft and the rights to goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. Catley played left back in 11 matches for the Pride in 2016, playing 990 minutes and scoring the club’s first ever goal at Portland Thorns on a free kick. She finishes her first season with Orlando with a goal and an assist.
Sermanni has a number of options to replace Catley in the lineup but there is no one of her quality and experience to handle that left back position. Sam Witteman and others have played the spot while Catley was away on international duty.
The Pride season resumes this Friday at Camping World Stadium, when Orlando takes on the Washington Spirit at 7:30 p.m.