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2018 Player Profiles: Becky Sauerbrunn

In the words of Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn is “calm, cool, collected,” and we saw that as she led the Utah Royals FC defense in 2018.

Nikita Taparia

Becky Sauerbrunn was the first player from FC Kansas City to formally announce her commitment to Utah Royals FC for the 2018 season. The announcement on December 21, 2017 was a major one for the new club, especially as a World Cup Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, an NWSL Champion (twice), and a three-time NWSL Defender of the Year officially joined the team. The Royals not only added a veteran player to the roster, but a decorated one as well. Sauerbrunn is one of the most respected names in women’s soccer as a player and leader.

Since helping anchor the backline for the U.S. Women’s National Team in their quest to a third World Cup title in 2015 and FC Kansas City to back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015, Sauerbrunn has been admired by coaches, teammates, players, and media throughout the league for the way she reads the game, especially her ability to read building plays on the field and move up the field when necessary. Additionally, her marking and positioning in the backline is exceptional, and why for years she has been considered the best defender in the world.

That experience and leadership was on display this past season as Sauerbrunn led a Utah Royals FC defense that allowed the second-fewest shots in the league (227) and shots on target (69). Individually, Sauerbrunn had 90 clearances, 18 blocks, and 49 interceptions. She won 65.% of her duels and 66.7% of her tackles. From a distribution perspective, Sauerbrunn completed 86.3% of her passes, keeping a 92.9% passing accuracy in Utah’s own half.

Sauerbrunn was the only Utah Royals FC player to be named to the National Women’s Soccer League Best XI for 2018, her sixth consecutive selection. She is the only player to be named Best XI every year since the league’s launch in 2013. Sauerbrunn was also a finalist for the 2018 NWSL Defender of the Year award, finishing second overall behind winner Abby Erceg from the North Carolina Courage.

The Utah Royals FC Captain is expected to return for 2019 as an allocated player. However, U.S. National Team duty may limit her time with Utah as the USWNT prepares for the 2019 World Cup.