Boxxy is back. Shannon Boxx, a former star at South Torrance High and widely considered the best female holding midfielder in the world, played her first game in seven months Sunday after suffering a serious knee injury last July. Boxx’s timing was off, the legs moved a little slower than usual and she actually was caught in possession in her own half once – a rarity before her injury. But the performance scarcely mattered. What counted was that the 29-year-old Boxx and her 6-month-old new right knee that includes cadaver tissue emerged unscathed from the game. “It feels awesome,” said Boxx after the game, a large ice pack affixed to her knee as a precaution. “I slid, I went in hard and I thought after the first (tackle), `That was perfect, I’m not going to think about it anymore.’ “It’s a younger (body) part,” she added with a laugh. “I may as well take it.” It has been a frustrating time for Boxx, a national team regular who racked up 59appearances since the 2003World Cup. She injured her knee in a collision with a goalie in training camp. Her knee was completely rebuilt during two operations four weeks apart last summer. Boxx rehabbed up to threehours a day, five days a week, clocking miles on a stationery bike and slowly regaining her mobility. She didn’t run for the first three months after the last operation and didn’t kick a ball until January. Last Friday, Boxx took part in a short scrimmage and removed her knee brace. “I felt free,” she said. “This was my first major injury and it was frustrating not being able to do the things I usually do. This would have to be one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.” Boxx aims to make the 20-player travel roster that will head to the 14th annual Algarve Cup on March 7-14 in Portugal. The U.S. has been drawn into a group that also includes China, Finland and Sweden in the initial round-robin phase of the eight-team tournament. Ryan will announce the squad from among 28 players taking part in the week-long national team camp that ends Wednesday. “Yes, she can,” said Ryan when asked if Boxx had a chance to make the roster. “She hasn’t yet, but yes she can.” During Boxx’s absence, 23-year-old Leslie Osborne ably stepped into the breach. But with Osborne more of an attacking player than Boxx, Ryan is seeking a way to incorporate both into his midfield. In a likely sign of things to come, Boxx and Osborne played together Sunday in a 4-3-3 formation, one of the first times the pair had stepped on the field at the same time. “I have a feeling we’re going to playing alongside one another a lot,” Boxx said. “She does very well going forward.” Seven months is a long time in international soccer, even for a player who in 2005 was voted the third best in the world, and Boxx isn’t necessarily a lock to resume her midfield role. Ryan said Lori Chalupny, usually a defender, has played well when deployed in midfield, and Aly Wagner and Carli Lloyd also give him choices. “The competition for spots in that part of the field I’m really happy about, because we have a lot of good options right now,” Ryan said. Still, that’s unlikely to be a daunting prospect for Boxx, who unexpectedly emerged in 2003with a series of gutsy performances that stemmed from sheer hard work. Now, she must stake her claim all over again – and she’s savoring every moment. “Now, I don’t take anything for granted,” Boxx said. “I come out here and enjoy the game.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Known as Boxxy by her teammates on the field, she played 75minutes in the U.S. women’s national team’s 4-0 victory over its under-21 counterparts at Home Depot Center. “She looks good considering she’s been on the shelf for seven months,” said coach Greg Ryan, who is preparing the team for the World Cup in China later this year.