Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod has confirmed the worst — a knee injury will keep her out of the Summer Olympics.
McLeod, considered by Canadian coach John Herdman to be the best women's goalkeeper in the world, injured her anterior cruciate ligament March 23 playing for her Swedish club team.
"The biggest question is the Olympics and because I have already had two operations it makes a third one, well, extremely complicated," McLeod said in a statement Wednesday. "What I know for sure is I won't be ready for August. My surgical options means it will take between one and two years to come back, and there are no guarantees, as there never really are in life.
"This news was of course heartbreaking because going to the Olympics is a dream as well as an honour. This Olympic team is one that will excite you, I know for me, it feels like I have been waiting for this group my whole career. The people on this team work harder than any other people I know, and, well, I know they will give anything for the emblem on their chests."
McLeod helped Canada win bronze at the 2012 Games in London.
A key member and leader on the Canadian team, the 33-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., has won 115 caps with 43 of those appearances resulting in shutouts.
"Erin is an incredible athlete and her absence in the lead up to and during the Rio Olympics will be felt," said Herdman. "She really puts her whole self into playing for Canada and has been a driving force in every area, including playing a key role on the off-field leadership of the team. Erin needs to take this time to recover and we are fully supportive of her choice to take this time to recover properly and hopefully come back stronger than she was before."
Stephanie Labbe becomes Canada's No. 1 with Sabrina D'Angelo as her likely backup. Labbe, a 29-year-old from Edmonton, has 27 caps and 13 clean sheets.
An accomplished artist, entrepreneur and LGBT spokeswoman off the field, McLeod brings a lot to the table. On the field, she is a commanding presence who is key in helping marshal the Canadian defence.
McLeod's injury, the third ACL injury to the same knee, occurred on a seemingly innocent play in the first leg of the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final between FC Rosengard of Sweden and FFC Frankfurt of Germany. McLeod went down after kicking the ball and was taken off in the 13th minute.
McLeod, in her statement, thanked the Canadian Soccer Association as well as her club team.
"It is clear to me that both parties are mostly interested in my health as a person first and foremost, and my life as a soccer player second ... As for me, family, friends, fans, thank you for your love, but know that I am grateful for every moment I have put on a Canadian jersey and this is not the end of the road for me — know that I've still got a lot of fight left and I hope to be on that field again someday soon."