USWNT's Carli Lloyd to miss NWSL Challenge Cup with knee injury

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Carli Lloyd will miss the upcoming NWSL Challenge Cup because of a knee injury, Sky Blue FC confirmed on Monday.

Sky Blue said in a statement that Lloyd, 37, injured her left knee during the offseason. While describing it as a minor injury, the team said Lloyd was unable to recover completely in time for the Challenge Cup which begins on June 27.

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"I have unfortunately picked up an injury while I was at home training," Lloyd said in a statement. "I was optimistic about being able to return in time for the NWSL Challenge Cup, but my injury is going to require more time to recover."

Sky Blue and other NWSL teams were still in preseason camps when the coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down sports in March.

Lloyd's last competitive appearance came for the United States in the SheBelieves Cup final against Japan on March 11. She played in all three games in that tournament, including starts against England and Spain.

Lloyd also said in the statement that she looked forward to returning to play when she is ready.

In a subsequent tweet she dismissed rumors that her absence might be related to a pregnancy.

"One thing we do know about Carli is that if she was physically able to get on the pitch, there's nothing that would hold her back," Sky Blue general manager Alyse LaHue said. "This setback will require more time than we had hoped, but we are here to support her swift and safe return to playing again."

Sky Blue's first game in the preliminary round of the Challenge Cup is June 30 against OL Reign, who are expected to be without Megan Rapinoe for the month-long tournament in Utah.

Sky Blue's final roster is expected to include U.S. national team regular Mallory Pugh, acquired from the Washington Spirit in the offseason.