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Defender Heather Mitts Tears ACL, Will Miss 2007 Women's World Cup

CHICAGO (May 15, 2006) -- U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team defender Heather Mitts, a member of the USA’s Olympic gold medal winning team in 2004, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during the 25th minute of the USA’s 6-2 win over Canada on May 12 in Frisco, Texas, and will be sidelined for six-to-eight months, eliminating her from contention for a spot on the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team.

Mitts had an MRI on Monday and it confirmed the ACL tear. She will have surgery within the next 10 days.

“It is obviously very sad,” said Mitts. “I was definitely feeling good about my game and how much I’ve progressed as a player over the past few years and ready to make a contribution to the team in the Women’s World Cup. To have a setback like this is difficult to handle, but with the support of my family, my teammates, our medical staff and the coaches, I know I can come back strong. This team has become very special to me. I'm confident my teammates will bring home the World Cup, I just hope to be with them to bring home the gold in Beijing in 2008.”

Mitts has played 71 times for the USA and worked her way consistently into the starting line-up over the past four years, earning 64 of her 71 caps over that time as her feisty defensive play at outside back and ability to attack down the flanks had made her an important member of the USA’s back line. Against Canada, she registered an assist on the USA’s second goal in the 13th minute, the first of her international career, before going down with the injury.

The 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in just under four months and will run from Sept. 10-30, 2007, in five Chinese cities. It would have been Mitts’ first Women’s World Cup. Mitts has become one of the USA’s most popular players over the past few years, in part due to her TV work as a commentator for ESPN on college football and Major League Soccer.

“Heather has played great for us in 2007,” said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan. “She put in one of the best crosses of the year on our second goal against Canada last Saturday night and we will definitely miss her at the outside back as we move forward in preparing for the Women’s World Cup.”