Despite her absence much of this summer due to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Becky Sauerbrunn continued to be an important player for Utah Royals FC in 2019. No one else commanded the backline and brought stability to the defense as much as Sauerbrunn when she was with the team. Her partnership with fellow center back Rachel Corsie is also considered to be one of the best in the NWSL.
In her 14 starts, Sauerbrunn played all 1,230 minutes that she was allowed, without being subbed off. Her ability to read the field is one of the reasons she is considered to be among one of the best defenders in the world. She recorded 76 clearances, 7 blocks, and 21 interceptions, winning 71.2% of her duels with opposing players. Her passes came at a 87.6% success rate, completing 784 of out of total of 895. Her only goal, a header, in 2019 came in a crucial late season game against rival Portland Thorns FC. It would be her first goal for Utah Royals FC.
It was rare and it was beautiful. @beckysauerbrunn's tally is the Week 21 #NWSL Goal of the Week. pic.twitter.com/0QEl1qUGUv— NWSL (@NWSL) September 10, 2019
Sauerbrunn was named the NWSL’s Defender of the Year for 2019, an accolade she later admitted that could have gone to her fellow nominees instead since they played in the NWSL the entire season. Sauerbrunn was previously voted as the NWSL Defender of the Year three years in a row while playing for FC Kansas City (2013-15).
Much of Sauerbrunn’s success in 2019 came with her leading the backline of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to another World Cup title. Sauerbrunn played in six matches, recording three blocks and refusing to stay down after a head-to-head collision with the Netherlands’ Lieke Martens. The successful World Cup run would be her second time she leads the USWNT backline, defining her legacy with the USWNT.
Sauerbrunn is expected to return to Utah as an allocated player. With news in a coaching change due to Laura Harvey stepping down as head coach, Sauerbrunn’s role as leader and captain will be more valuable than ever.