Stanford, U.S. midfielder Andi Sullivan suffers torn ACL

The Equalizer Staff November 21, 2016 57
Andi Sullivan's budding USWNT career will have to wait until her torn ACL heals. (Photo Courtesy

Andi Sullivan’s budding USWNT career will have to wait until her torn ACL heals. (Photo Courtesy

Stanford junior Andi Sullivan, who was recently capped by the United States, suffered a torn ACL last Friday night during the Cardinal’s 1-0 upset loss to Santa Clara in the NCAA tournament. The team account tweeted the news earlier Monday.

A native of Virginia, Sullivan opted to go west for her college career and in 2014 was named PAC-10 Freshman of the Year. As a sophomore, Sullivan was a MAC Hermann Trophy Award semifinalist.

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On September 19, Sullivan made her senior international debut when she started and played 75 minutes in a victory over Switzerland. She went on to start all four matches the U.S. has played since and earned two assists. Sullivan previously represented the United States at all levels of youth soccer. She was part of the U-17 squad that won the World Championship in 2012 and was co-captain of the U-20 side that went to the 2014 World Cup.

Sullivan was injured during overtime against Santa Clara. It was a match Stanford later lost on Jenna Holtz’s golden goal. The second round loss was Stanford’s earliest since 2005.

  • Tiggybeaar

    too many minutes for an amateur. jill ellis has just as much responsibility for this injury as anyone…

    • Katie Curtiss

      she went in to a bad tackle and messed her leg up, she did that herself, not Jill. how is Jill Ellis responsible?

      • rkmid71

        I feel similar about Rapinoe’s ACL injury in Hawaii. If I recall, it was on a natural grass practice field. There was a lot of finger pointing at USSF for bad fields. I thought that was ridiculous. These things can happen anytime, anywhere even with no contact, under perfect conditions which is normally the case with the WNT or even most colleges. If I think about all the horrible fields my daughter played on in her youth days — ruts, dirt, old turf hard as concrete, grass fields mulched with bits of glass and rocks (that only happened once and no slide tackles allowed that game – parents collected glass and rock samples). But still loved to play. Now her home field in college is a beautiful grass field.

  • AlexH

    This sucks. The only good thing that will come of this is that Jill will have to look at more options. There are a ton of great players out there so maybe we find another Andi Sullivan

    • Movement

      Morgan Andrews better be ready.
      Same for Rose Lavelle.

    • Kevin

      Just when I thought we found our holding mid 🙁

      The good news is that it’s a long ways away from WC19 still, so there’s no rush and she’ll have plenty of time to get back to form.

      • Steglitz49

        Indeed. Oth, they may find someone else in the meantime, who establishes herself.

    • atalba

      Look no further than the starting holding midfielder for Stanford, this entire season: Tierna Davidson. The 5’11” freshman is rated as the 3rd best freshman player n the country by Top Drawer Soccer. She had a fantastic season switching up with her center-mid. She’s very technical and can pass with the best of them; like all Stanford players.

  • Silver Frost

    Does anyone come back 100% after an ACL? Morgan and Rapinoe come to mind.

    • anon

      I thought Morgan’s injury in 2013 that some say she never fully came back from was an ankle injury and then some kind of non-acl knee injury (a bone chip or something?). The initial ACL she had as a high schooler might have made her more prone to future knee issues though, but she did recover well enough to become a star in the sport. Some people are just more likely to have ligament tears. I think Rapinoe tore them in both knees. She didn’t come back from her last one because it was her third or fourth tear and she is in her thirties. Andi is still very young.

      • rkmid71

        Rapinoe didn’t come back from her last one? I agree with you, but apparently JE and the training staff thought she did (enough) pre OG though no test games in friendlies or NWSL. And apparently still not fit today. That’s my last word on Rapinoe and the OG — I just wish they would be honest about the mistake, it won’t happen again, etc. Agree with you on Sullivan — 1 ACL is doable. More injuries and I think a player has to be able to significantly up their game in other areas to compensate as they aren’t the same physically. Acceleration is a key requirement for a great player, along with ball skills and awareness/soccer iq.

        The work required to get the explosiveness back is intense — Adrian Peterson is the freak example of someone that was able to do it in <1 year and play at the same high level pre injury..Rapinoe is no AP as proved after her first two ACL injuries. But then neither is RGIII or anyone else that I've seen. No matter how much platelet-rich plasma therapy they undergo. The Germans seem to be losing players left right and center to ACL injuries. I'm hoping every team, every player is doing simple ACL prevention physical training or exercises before every practice — along the lines recommended by that Swedish doctor mentioned by Steg49.

        • guest

          why do some say the Bundesliga has so many injuries compared to even the NWSL? I don’t watch the league, is the German style of play just that much more physical? Or is it something lacking in their training/ conditioning?

        • Steglitz49

          I suspect they skimp on the exercises to prevent ACL-damage. Even if it is only 15 minutes, it is easy to not bother. The coaches also do not seem to crack the whip on this, worse to type.

          • rkmid71

            They’re too busy yapping with their teammates/friends. Don’t know why they can’t do both at the same time.Just lengthen practice by 15 minutes and bring in a trainer to make sure everyone is doing the exercises properly. Btw — there really is no “prevention” as no matter what you do it can still happen. But I do believe the probabilities decline and if it does happen, it’s not as severe and recovery faster.

          • Steglitz49

            There could be an NIH-element too — Not Invented Here.

            A simple training program developed by some orthopods-physios in a small country far away of which we know nothing might not have cut as much ice initially as had it come from Stanford, Duke or Harvard.

            Also, how can you market it? You can’t call it Alex’s or Pinoe’s knee program, unless you tweak it and then it might not be as good nor as simple and effective.

          • rkmid71

            Alex could endorse and provide demonstration of exercises, do Q&A with orthopods-physios, talk about proof of concept, what makes it the best out there, etc.Don’t forget to add disclaimers. Leverage all her twitter and other followers. She’d be doing it not really for the money, but for all her millions of fellow soccer playing fans.Could sell program online.

          • guest

            Women (and some women to a greater degree than others) have natural joint strain that can lead to knee issues. Most women are naturally knock knee-d due to the relatively wide width of the pelvic bone, leading to more strain on the knees and its associated connective tissues. Our hip and knee joints are often not “optimally” aligned.

          • guesting

            gosh darn that whole baby carrying leads to wide pelvis leads to tilted femur thing.

          • rkmid71

            Most or >50% knock kneed? I assume you’re right though — that’s why many are just not cut out for soccer at a high level. In this forum, I think we’re talking mostly about the smaller subset in the “normal” knee category and whose body can withstand high level, intense training without all that strain. Separately, that whole baby carrying thing is what makes women superhuman.

          • anon

            I don’t think it’s about a smaller subset that is successful in soccer. People (aka trolls) wonder why ACL’s are the bane of woso – ligament strain is just something that is more common in women.

          • rkmid71

            In general, more common in women due to physiological differences. But within the group of women, there is a subset that is less susceptible and closer to men. But I think the point is that it’s even more important for WoSo players to do the preventative exercises. I’m also a believer in speed agility training which has a lot of corollary benefits for ACL prevention. Things like core strength, balance, etc.

          • Steglitz49

            The optimal might be to develop some test that would accurately predict if a player is highly likely to have problems with her knees. Then she could be advised to concentrate on other sports. The fact that no such simple test exists, suggests that the problem is more complicated than one might think.

            Nevertheless, the high rate of knee-injuries in WoSo and other sports is a cause for concern.

          • atalba

            I agree. But this is not a new phenomenon. When I coached, I incorporated exercises from the Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation PEP program, which has had many things online for over 10 years.

            Higher level clubs will have their players work with highly-paid technical trainers every week, but nobody (usually all men) knows anything about conditioning, particularly for girls.

            US Soccer started using it in 2003.


          • Steglitz49

            ARod has had two sprogs and she seems OK and Syd one but it is too early to tell.

          • Steglitz49

            Ignorant peasants scratch their heads and wonder too. Some wonder why the lasses persevere with such a sword of Damocles over their knees. Others wonder why they do not religiously do the preventive exercises.

            Given their Jesuit heritage, one would have expected Georgetown to have the lowest ACL-tare rate in the NCAA. Do they?

          • Steglitz49

            da hipbone is joined to da legbone … ever one Leghorn

          • Bruce

            Morgan already participated in a campaign to promote the FIFA-11 warm-up.


          • Bruce
          • Bruce

            Many, many clon

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. It may well be.

  • Steglitz49

    The bane of WoSo.

    Once she has recovered a spell in Avaldsnes may be just the ticket.

  • FawcettFan14

    Horrible news. Though if one is to suffer an ACL, this is the “best” time for it to happen. End of the college season, she is not a professional yet, and an estimated 9-month recovery time gets her back to playing in time for her senior year, or most of it anyway.

    Still, it seems those who suffer one ACL injury are more likely to suffer more in the future, so I wish Sullivan the best. She is a big talent who deserves a long career with club and country.

  • Ron Rocha

    You have to wonder how this will affect those who are weighing a college soccer career vs a pro career and what cost trying to do both might have on the body. No answer… but one must wonder.

    • Steglitz49

      College first seems a fine motto and lodestar.

  • atalba
    • Steglitz49

      Rachel Corboz — another NJ girl — is at #7. Vow! What was her older sister Daphne’s highest rank?

      The highest ranked non-North-American is Megan Connoly at #18 — though Rachel’s parents (at least her dad) are French so she could play for France.

      Should there not be position-specific ranking?

    • rkmid71

      Can you please explain topdrawer’s player ranking methodology?

      • mockmook

        Thanks for the chuckle…

      • #1Fan

        they dont have one. it should be renamed the TDS hype meter or buzz index. Player ability is a minor input in most of their rankings from u14 on up

        • Steglitz49

          What do they do? Take the Square root of the sum of their vital statistics and then add 100 pts for an Irish surname? How much do they deduct for being a minority? Being born on the wrong side of the railroad tracks must be a tie-breaker at least.

        • mockmook

          Certainly TDS has its flaws, but they get the big names right.

          Here are their top 10 seniors from last year:

          Raquel Rodriguez*
          Emily Sonnett
          Rachel Daly*
          Makenzy Doniak
          Cari Roccaro
          Janine Beckie*
          Katie Bowen*
          Brianne Reed
          Erica Skroski
          Abby Smith

          All of them were drafted, and with a few exceptions, they were the most impactful rookies of 2016.

          • #1Fan

            my assessment is based on their total output. They rank from Grad class 2020 on up. And tbh by senior year in College its not that hard.

          • mockmook

            Alright, who will be the 10 most impactful rookies in 2017?

            (and no fair peeking at TDS’ rankings)

    • mockmook

      What point are you making?

      • atalba

        I actually don’t recall. But, if you look at that list, in my opinion, it makes up the core of the US roster for 3-4 years out.

        Each youth player in the top 100 or so has a rating going into college. It might not be accurate, but they have one. Each club team has a ranking as well. It’s sort of like an API. The more wins, the better teams they face, tournament results, etc.

        I PRESUME TDS takes this, along with coaching evaluations into consideration. I also presume NT experience adds to their rating. ODP and ECNL experience, etc demonstrates what coaches think of you. All-tournament selections. Just the data alone is a good place to start.

        It’s not fool proof, but to say it doesn’t happen is inaccurate.

        My example is a freshman from the University of Washington, who played each game this past season, but was mostly not a contributor. She committed prior to her junior year in high school. She was “head and shoulders” a better athlete than anyone I’ve seen. Size, strength, and tremendous speed. She played on a highly-rated team, played in several top tournaments, but, she herself, did not have any stars, in the ranking system. It happens.

        • mockmook

          I agree that the TDS list is a good starting point for those who are interested in who the best NCAA players are. Another place to find rated NCAA lists is All White Kit.

          But, as an example, roughly half of the 2016 draft was players not on the TDS list. Some of these are:

          Alex Arlitt
          McKenzie Berryhill
          Christina Burkenroad
          Britt Eckerstrom
          Michaela Hahn
          Brittany Ratcliffe
          Cheyna Williams

          I’d bet that some of these eventually make it on to the USWNT.

        • rkmid71

          Far far from foolproof. I would bet that your example can be repeated more than a hundredfold. College freshman not just playing, but difference makers starting and playing major minutes throughout D1. Many never bothered to pay the fee to get a Topdrawer profile, self promote or not selected to YNT. Topdrawer more or less ignored the entire universe of non ECNL. Presumably now they will ignore the entire universe of non GDA. Though I do think GDA has a much better chance of consolidating talent than ECNL ever did. I believe college coaches that trust their eyes and put the work in (and have the travel budget) on the recruiting front can find a lot of under the radar talents with huge upside. Because the task is so big, if it was me, I would start by looking carefully at all the players on the top teams for ECNL, USYS, etc.You don’t become a top team without quality throughout a lineup or roster. And as you point out, those teams are accustomed to competing at a higher level, closer to college in terms of speed, physicality. It’s a better predictor how a player will transition.Then move down to next tier of teams.

          • atalba

            I agree with you. But if you’re trying to find a top 100 out thousands, there’s really no good answer. At any good tournament, there any reason dozens of college coaches. In Las Vegas, I believe they have 2 top tournaments in the same month. One exclusively for top teams in the country. The other also attracts high-level teams through the entire country. That might be 64 teams in one age bracket. There are hundreds of college coaches at these events. Some from the big names, and many from the other tiers of college soccer. This happens throughout the country in San Diego, Orlando, etc. There’s a lot chances to be seen.

          • Steglitz49

            Another way to look at it is that it is awfully hard to select the best players from such a broad and wide and deep church.


    someone remove MalPugh from the U20s immediately if not sooner and give another youngster a shot at development. No reason for her to be playing for two national teams and NCAA.

    • Hans Castorp

      She will be removed, after just another match or two.

    • Steglitz49

      Her teammates on the U20 are no doubt grateful for her skill and ability.

  • Calci0

    Things were really pointing up for her too! That’s really got to be a tough ordeal to get through, knowing you were on the cusp of finding a spot on the USWNT. Really hope she can bounce back!

    • Steglitz49

      Her model could be Pernilla Wiberg. Pernilla lost a year aged 19 because of knee injury. It looked dark at the time but she considers in retrospect that it helped her develop. Mind you, Pernilla is always cheerful and laughs at the drop of a hat. Such an upbeat positive attitude takes you miles.

  • Besides Alex and Pinoe, didn’t Ali torn her ACL just before the 2012 Olympics and came back even better for the 2015 WWC?