Portland Thorns star Sophia Smith sidelined with knee injury

Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith has sustained a mild medial collateral ligament (MCL) strain, the team said on Wednesday, making her the latest player to succumb to a surge of knee injuries to professional women's soccer players.

The 23-year-old United States star suffered the right knee injury while attempting a challenge just before half-time in Portland's 1-1 draw against the Washington Spirit on Sunday.

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"Smith's status is week-to-week, and she will undergo rehabilitation with Thorns FC sports medicine staff," the team said of the 2022 NWSL MVP.

Portland is atop the standings with five weeks remaining in the regular season. With 11 goals, Smith currently leads the Golden Boot race.

The prevalence of knee injuries in women's soccer is an area of growing concern as several players were forced to miss this year's Women's World Cup after tearing their anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL).

Runners-up England were without captain Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby while the lineups for Canada, France, Netherlands and the U.S. were all affected.

Studies suggest women are two to eight times more likely to suffer ACL injuries compared to men in the same sport and 25% less likely to return after recovery.

Theories as to why women are more likely to suffer from ACL injuries range from women playing in boots designed for men to anatomical differences in female players and changing hormones during women's menstrual cycles.

Former Australia forward Sarah Walsh is among those who have called for more investment in research to find ways to cut down on the injuries. Read full story