Even if her entire career had gone to plan, Naperville native and Red Stars defender Casey Short appearing for the U.S. national team at Toyota Park would’ve been a nice moment. But considering what she’s gone through, coming on as a 69th-minute substitute during the United States’ 4-1 win last Thursday over Brazil in the Tournament of Nations meant a little more.

“I did get that opportunity and it was the coolest thing ever to be announced,” said Short, who has played 24 games for the national team. “They gave a shout to Naperville, which was pretty cool too. To be able to represent my country in hometown was one of the highlights of my career for sure.”

Short’s career has also seen some lowlights.

At Florida State, she missed the 2011 season after tearing her left ACL. Then in 2013, after being taken with the fifth overall pick by the Boston Breakers but before signing a contract, Short tore her right ACL and MCL while playing with the Under-23 national team. In 2014 there was more bad news, as Short had to go through surgery on her right knee again because of complications with the injury.

“After that third surgery on my knee I think that’s when I sort of hit rock bottom and started to question myself, wondered are my knees really going to hold up for the next level? Then, let alone, I still had aspirations being on the national team as well,” Short said. “My support system really helped me through it, and then I realized how badly I really wanted to accomplish these goals.”

Since the third surgery, Short’s trajectory has changed.

In 2015, she moved to Norway and made 27 appearances for Avaldsnes IL, where she was named to the league’s best 11. Then in 2016, Short made her NWSL and Red Stars debut. She also earned her first call-up from the senior national team, playing for the U.S. for the first time on Oct. 19 of that year.

Since joining the Red Stars, Short has earned an NWSL Best XI selection in 2016 and a Second XI pick in 2017, and has given herself a chance to go to next year’s World Cup.

“It would mean the world to be able to accomplish that goal and be a part of that team, and hopefully to be able to win a World Cup,” Short said. “I think that would be absolutely incredible, but it’s still a year away. There’s so much that can happen in that time, but I’m going to do every single thing that I can to put myself in the position to do that.”