It’s the news a Utah Royals FC fan may not want to hear: Becky Sauerbrunn is injured. As U.S. Soccer performed medical evaluations before the start of training camp, they discovered that Sauerbrunn had a stress reaction in her left foot.
The good news: Becky Sauerbrunn will get much-needed rest after starting and playing in every U.S. Women’s National Team game in 2017. That’s 16 games total, and some of those against top ten ranked opponents like Germany, England, France, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil. Additionally, Sauerbrunn played 1,980 minutes for FC Kansas City in the 2017 NWSL season. That’s 22 games out of 24.
The bad news: The injury will require several weeks of rest, potentially affecting her play with the Royals for the beginning of the pre-season and training.
More bad news: This injury could have been preventable.
Last year, the U.S. National Team played every FIFA window. Head coach Jill Ellis saw it as necessary in preparation for the future to deepen her player pool, which is understandable if the U.S. is to remain at the top. However, was it necessary to play every FIFA international break, especially during a grueling and long NWSL season?
The list of injuries should cause U.S. Soccer and Ellis to rethink that. Preparation is key, without a doubt, but so is making sure that players are not overworked and put at risk for injuries. Basically, it’s okay to skip an international break after a grueling year against top-ranked opponents.
In 2017, the U.S. saw forward Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), defender Kelley O’Hara (at Sky Blue FC at the time), midfielder Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), midfielder Morgan Brian (Houston Dash/Chicago Red Stars), defender Taylor Smith (North Carolina Courage), midfielder Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), forward Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign), and midfielder Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) all missing U.S. camps and/or games due to injuries.
The fact that Sauerbrunn, one of the toughest players on the team, to be the next one to be sidelined should make Ellis and U.S. Soccer reconsider playing every FIFA window for 2018.
NWSL and U.S. Soccer fans would appreciate that very much.