Tobin Heath hasn’t played a game for the U.S. WNT since March 7, 2017. Shortly after the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year, Heath was sidelined with a back injury and has been away from the team environment for both club and country the last six months, missing the entirety of the NWSL season so far and every WNT camp and game since then.
Heath last played a game for the WNT on March 7, 2017 against France at the SheBelieves Cup.
Thankfully, her time watching, or perhaps not watching, as no one loves to be on the field more than her (making standing on the sidelines excruciating) has come to an end.
“The recovery timeline was tough,” Heath said. “When I finally got the diagnosis for my injury I knew I was going to be out for a while and I wrote off a lot of the season. Obviously, football is my passion and it brings me so much joy so to not be able to play with my teammates was really difficult.”
As September rolled around, and after an intelligently-handled and dedicated rehab period, Heath was once again training with her club team. She was also finally healthy enough to come back into the fold and join the WNT, even if she has not quite regained her game fitness yet.
“It feels fantastic to be back,” she said, who has been attending U.S. National Team camps since her mid-teens. “Just camp life in general, I love it. I’ve been doing this for a while.”
Being away from the game they love for an extended period is tough for any athlete, but for Heath, someone who lives and breathes soccer, it was a true test of mental strength, one that taught her that life can be special no matter what it is you choose to do.
“[Being away], it put a lot of things about life in perspective,” she said. “I’m thankful for each day, and whether it has football or not, I always try to live it to the fullest.”
While Heath did not dress for the Sept. 15 match against New Zealand in Colorado, she is available for selection for the Sept. 19 match in Cincinnati, but she isn’t worried about when she’ll return to game action. For her, it’s about having a total recovery and taking things slow to build back to the dominance on the field she has shown over the past few years.
“I’m just taking each day as they come, to be honest,” she said. “I’m stoked to train and be back with the group. I’ve got to get my form back and I’m just enjoying that process.”
The U.S. WNT will take on New Zealand for the second of its two-game set on Sept. 19 (7:30 p.m. ET) at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. A crowd of about 30,000 fans is expected in the Queen City on Tuesday.