Becky Sauerbrunn

USWNT
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Portland acquires two-time World Cup winner Becky Sauerbrunn

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PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Thorns have acquired veteran U.S. national team defender Becky Sauerbrunn from the Utah Royals.

The long-rumored deal was made official Tuesday. The Royals acquired defender Elizabeth Ball and $100,000 in allocation money, with the possibility of additional allocation money if future conditions are met.

Sauerbrunn is in Orlando, Florida with the national team, preparing for the SheBelieves Cup tournament. The United States opens the tournament on Thursday night against England.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

In an interview published on the Portland Thorns’ website, Sauerbrunn said she was excited to come to Portland, where she lives in the offseason.

“As a player, I’ve lived my life in two parts, where my life with my team has been away from where I (otherwise) lived,” she said. “Going to Portland at this point in my career, having lived there for five years, that changes. This move allows me to play at home.”

Sauerbrunn has played professionally in the National Women’s Soccer League since 2013, starting with FC Kansas City before moving to the Royals in 2018. She’s been named NWSL Defender of the Year four times.

Thorns general manager Gavin Wilkinson said he appreciated Utah’s cooperation in the deal to bring Sauerbrunn home.

“Becky will give us tremendous experience and leadership at the back,” Wilkinson said. “Her addition to a group of players with championship capabilities and aspirations is exciting on all levels.”

Sauerbrunn was on the U.S. team that won the World Cup in 2015 and again last summer in France. She also won the Olympic gold medal with the team in 2012. She has 174 appearances with the national team.

USWNT Best XI of the decade (2010s)

USWNT Best XI of the decade (2010s)
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Back-to-back World Cup winners don’t grow on trees, but how many of the 2015 and 2019 champs should comprise the USWNT’s Best XI of the 2010s?

Choosing a men’s Best XI was difficult enough. Claiming the women’s top team is darn near impossible.

That won’t stop us from trying, especially given there are more hours in the year than there are posts to write in earnest.

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The challenge in putting together an XI given this decade’s accolades is how many shiny attacking toys produced by this fine country.

Start rattling off the big names and you’ll see the struggle: Wambach, Morgan, Lloyd, Heath, Rapinoe, O’Reilly.

Shoot: Amy Rodriguez and Christen Press would be the best attackers of the decade if their nationality was any of about 125 other options (FIFA only ranks 141 women’s teams).

So we are going to cheat a little bit.

Our Best XI will play three at the back despite the fact that the Yanks rarely if ever operated that way. The reason is the Yanks have one no-doubter fullback who played left back in one World Cup win and right back in another.

[ MORE: Best USMNT, USWNT moments of the 2010s ]

Ali Krieger is a fit enough choice for right back, but can the newlywed star justify her place over one of the attacking heroes we’d like to swing into the fold? Meh.

Plus Julie Ertz at center mid gives us a bonus center back, and we’re willing to bet that either Becky Sauerbrunn or she would make for one heck of a full back in a pinch.

Lauren Holiday slides into the midfield alongside Ertz. The superstar retired near the peak of her powers to start a family with NBA husband Jrue Holiday, and we can hope that she wins the soccer or hoop debate if her children are sport-inclined.

That all brings us to the attackers.

Tobin Heath may be the flashiest and most fun attackers in the world, but she’s just missing out. It was either her or Abby Wambach, and the latter is the current (though not for long) leading scorer in the history of the game.

Solo

O’Hara — Rampone — Sauerbrunn

Ertz — Holiday

 Rapinoe — Lloyd — O’Reilly

Wambach — Morgan

USWNT player ratings from 2-1 victory vs. France

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The United States women’s national team scored early and rode out France’s second half storm to eliminate the hosts from the 2019 Women’s World Cup and advance to an eighth-straight semifinal.

[ MORE: Match recap | 3 things ]

The back line and keeper Alyssa Naeher were invaluable late, but it was headline-making Megan Rapinoe who made the most of her chances in a 2-1 win.


Starting XI

Alyssa Naeher — 7 — Grew into the game and was very good as the Yanks were under pressure over the final half-hour. Timed her jumps well after missing a big back post cross earlier in the contest.

Crystal Dunn — 7 — Was targeted from the opening stanza, and held her own considering the massive amount of pressure.

Abby Dahlhkemper — 6 — Nothing spectacular, but good enough to get the job done.

Becky Sauerbrunn — 8 — Calm and steady, as always.

Kelley O’Hara — 7 — Brought the edge needed to keep France uneasy. Late giveaway denies her an 8.

Sam Mewis (Off 82′) — 6 — Some sloppy moments, but overall kept pumping for 90 minutes.

Julie Ertz — 8 — If she’s not the most important player on the team, she’s 1B. Another day of cleaning up messes and stopping the spills before they get to mess status.

Rose Lavelle (Off 63′) — 5 — Not much room to operate for a very creative player.

Megan Rapinoe (off 88′) — 8 — Two goals is two goals, but remarkably the headline maker has four goals over her last two matches despite not being at her best. That’s saying something.

Alex Morgan — 6 — Must be dealing with an injury, because she’s essentially been a bystander for two matches. Created space well during her best moments.

Tobin Heath — 7 — Terrific playmaking, and very close to scoring what would’ve been a death knell for France if not for an offside flag.

Substitutes

Lindsey Horan (On 63′) — 6 — Couldn’t keep up with Renard on France’s goal, although Renard is her own argument for zonal marking.

Carli Lloyd (On 82′) — N/A

Christen Press (On 88′) — N/A

Becky Sauerbrunn reflective as US sets sights on World Cup

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To hear Becky Sauerbrunn reference the “twilight” of her career is a bit unsettling. It’s abundantly clear from watching the 32-year-old defender on the field that she’s still at her peak.

But Sauerbrunn is thinking about a legacy as the U.S. national team readies for World Cup qualifying this fall. If the defending champions make the field for women’s soccer’s premier event in France next year, it will be her third World Cup.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

For Sauerbrunn, that legacy means using her voice to effect change. It includes her team’s public push for equitable pay – which culminated with a new contract last April with U.S. Soccer.

And more recently it includes her effort to send a team of underprivileged girls to the Street Child World Cup in Moscow this summer.

“I’ve been given a platform and I want to do good with it. I’ve been playing sort of in the twilight of my career and I’d really like to leave the game better than when I found it,” she said.

Sauerbrunn spent the beginning of the year recovering from a foot injury. She made her first appearances of the season in a two-game series against Mexico, coming in as a sub in the opening game, a 4-1 U.S. victory, then starting the second, a 6-2 win on Sunday.

“The stress reaction I had in my foot is better. I’ve been getting MRIs and it’s healing, which is great,” she said. “I really feel like I’m coming back healthy and now it’s about getting back into soccer form.”

A center back, Sauerbrunn helped anchor the stellar backline that was key to the team’s title run at the 2015 World Cup in Canada. The difference this time around is that the United States won’t have goalkeeper Hope Solo, who set records during her lengthy career but left the team on bad terms following the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The search for the team’s new goalkeeper continues, with Jane Campbell of the Houston Dash getting the latest starting nod in Sunday’s friendly.

“We’re feeling really good,” Sauerbrunn said about the team’s mentality. “It’s unfortunate because we have quite a few injuries, so we’re missing four or five of our core players (including Tobin Heath and Julie Ertz). But what’s good about that is that it provides the opportunity for other players to show what they have and gain some valuable experience.”

Coach Jill Ellis continues to experiment with the backline although the dependable Sauerbrunn is a lock as a starter if she’s healthy. Crystal Dunn started as a fullback in Sunday’s game but moved up to an attacking position and Ellis indicated she liked versatility.

“I think overall what we’re looking for – these players obviously have to do the job defensively, but it’s also looking at what they can bring to our attack,” Ellis said.

For now Sauerbrunn is busy helping the Utah Royals open their first National Women’s Soccer League season. Sauerbrunn, a three-time NWSL Defender of the Year, played for FC Kansas City since the league’s inception in 2013 – but that team folded earlier this year and the players collectively went to the Royals.

The Royals will be looking for their first win of the season Saturday when they host the Chicago Red Stars.

She’s also lending her voice to raising funds for the Street Child World Cup team. The event in Moscow prior to the men’s World Cup this summer seeks to draw attention to the plight of homeless and orphaned children across the globe.

Sauerbrunn caused a stir recently on social media when she posted a photo of a baby soccer jersey and shorts, along with her cat. The tweet sent shockwaves through soccer fandom with speculation that she was pregnant.

“I’m like internally cringing just thinking about that. That was a prank gone awry. Do not use Twitter as a format for pranks,” she said. “I was cleaning out my apartment and saw this little Nike uniform and I thought, `Wow, it would be so funny to pull a prank.’ Such a backfire. Mia Hamm texted me and said, `Congratulations,’ and I thought, `I’m a terrible, terrible person, I just tricked Mia Hamm.’ Never again.”

For the record, she’s not pregnant. She’s got some things she’d like to accomplish on and off the field first.

Trio of USWNT players stay in locker room for national anthem

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USWNT players Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux and Becky Sauerbrunn were among players from both the Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City who did not appear for the national anthem at a NWSL game on Sunday.

Rapinoe was the first USWNT player to kneel during the national anthem as she joined the protests led by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick calling for racial equality and against police brutality.

With several NFL teams on Sunday taking a knee during the anthem and the Pitstburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks staying in the locker room during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, U.S. President Donald Trump has responded angrily to sports teams who decided to kneel during the national anthem.

Here’s more info from Sounder At Heart on SB Nation:

This time Megan Rapinoe is not alone. Several players from both teams joined her, staying in the locker room during the flag and anthem ceremony.

Elli Reed, Megan Rapinoe, Madalyn Schiffel, Lauren Barnes and Diana Matheson from the Reign did not take the field. Former Sounders/Reign player Sydney Leroux was among the FCKC starters who were not out for the ceremonies. Yael Averbuch, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Desiree Scott round out that group. Sauerbrunn is currently the United States captain. Leroux and Rapinoe are both regulars with the USWNT.

With U.S. Soccer bringing in a new bylaw earlier this year which states players must stand for the national anthem, could we see male and female U.S. stars following this option by not going out onto the pitch for the national anthem in upcoming international games?

All eyes will be on USWNT captain Sauerbrunn, plus midfielder Rapinoe and Leroux, during the anthem when Jill Ellis’ side play against South Korea on Oct. 19 and Oct. 22.

The actions of Bruce Arena’s USMNT side will also be heavily scrutinized ahead of their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago on Oct. 6 and Oct. 10 respectively.