The 2015 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Saturday, June 6 in Canada. The United States team is one of a handful of favorites to win the tournament and they’ve got a great story. Despite decades of excellent play, the team has not won a World Cup championship since 1999. That’s a whole generation of dreams denied and all the reason anyone should need to root for the team this year. To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.
National team experience: 81 appearances, this will be her second World Cup, and she has 0 international goals.
What to expect from Becky Sauerbrunn: Becky Sauerbrunn is a prototypical central defender. She’s strong, physical, and totally reliable. If you’re a midfielder, you feel secure knowing that if you make a mistake, Sauerbrunn is right behind you to clean it up. If you’re a goalie, you know you can count on her to keep the front of your net clear. With newcomer Julie Johnston taking over the other central defensive position and doing so with a distinct attacking flair, Sauerbrunn has become the leader of the back line and an even more firmly defensive player. Barring a major injury, we should expect to see Sauerbrunn on the field for every minute of the World Cup. She’s the only player to start in every match the team has played so far this year and she barely ever comes off the field. She’s used to being a workhorse — during her two years in the now defunct WPS professional soccer league, she was the only player in the entire league to play every minute of every game. At her current professional team, the NWSL’s FC Kansas City, she is captain and reigning two-time defensive player of the year.
Video: Like I said, Becky Sauerbrunn is the person you want cleaning up your idiotic mistakes.
Non-gendered personal interest item: Every player who makes a national team remembers their first game with the team. It’s a goal that many of them have been fighting toward for most of their lives. For Becky Sauerbrunn, that sublime memory was cemented and complicated by suffering a broken nose. Can you imagine what that would feel like? Not just the broken nose, but to have made it to the pinnacle of your profession only to break your nose in your first day at work? Crazy.