PHILADELPHIA — The 19 healthy U.S. players gathered in a circle around coach April Heinrichs at midfield Monday afternoon. It was too much for the one injured American, Brandi Chastain, to ignore.
So Chastain, the star defender who broke a bone in her right foot the previous day in the United States' 3-1 World Cup victory over Sweden, grabbed her crutches and hobbled toward the huddle.
Several fans in the crowd of about 300 at Chestnut Hill Academy applauded the effort. There will be plenty more applause if Chastain gets back into the lineup during the tournament that began Saturday.
"It's a week to 10 days of 100 percent no weight-bearing and evaluation," Chastain said. "I'll be on the bike and in the pool and doing cardio work to keep up with everyone.
"The quarterfinals would be nice to be back for, but we won't push it. That would be dumb. There are enough players who are very capable here."
The United States plays Nigeria on Thursday and North Korea on Sunday. If the heavily favored Americans advance to the quarterfinals, they would play on Oct. 1 in Foxboro, Mass.
Team physician Dr. Bill Garrett said Chastain's situation is "iffy."
"Often, a lot of fractures of the metatarsal like this stop being painful in three weeks," he said, adding that Chastain has a high threshold for pain. "Also, how much can we put her through without putting her at harm?
"It's all a question of how comfortable she is. She has a better chance of being helpful in two to three weeks if she is not doing anything for one week."
Missing two weeks would sideline Chastain through the semifinals, which are Oct. 5. The final is Oct. 12.
Chastain had X-rays taken of the foot two weeks ago and Garrett said a "stress reaction" was in the foot before Sunday's injury.
Cat Reddick, the only nonprofessional on the team — she is a senior at North Carolina — replaced Chastain at halftime against Sweden and played well. Chastain, the heroine of the 1999 World Cup victory with her deciding penalty-kick goal against China, wasn't surprised about Reddick's performance.
"Cat did an excellent job," Chastain said. "One of the best characteristics of Catherine is that she never flinches at getting into a tackle. Two or three times she got into it with one of Sweden's forwards and came away with the ball, which was very good."
Chastain's absence could change the makeup of the U.S. defense against Nigeria. Heinrichs moved Kate Sobrero to an inside position next to co-captain Joy Fawcett when Chastain was hurt. Reddick and Christie Pearce played on the outside.
Heinrichs is not committed to that alignment, however. While it seems certain those four will start, Heinrichs likes their versatility. So Reddick could play inside and Sobrero might move back to the outside.
Chastain will be on the bench, watching and rooting, an unusual position for the veteran appearing in her third World Cup.