On Friday it was reported and then confirmed by The Equalizer, that US women’s national team captain Becky Sauerbrunn is out of the upcoming World Cup in Australia/New Zealand due to a lingering foot injury. With only days left before players report to camp ahead of the tournament, this news, first reported by The Athletic, is devastating to the United States who are looking to earn a historic third-consecutive championship.
The roster isn’t officially released yet — although it is expected on Wednesday — but there’s plenty to discuss regarding what steps the US might take to try and fill the void left by the veteran defender.
Sauerbrunn has been the unquestionable anchor of the United States defense since the 2015 World Cup. Her calm precision on the pitch has always been an asset to the US, but with the 2023 squad — and the back line especially — skewing younger than it has in years past, her veteran presence was sure to play a critical role.
This is evident in the fact that Sauerbrunn appeared in 18 out of the 25 matches played over 2022-23 and started in 14 of them. Of those 14 starts, she played the full 90 minutes 12 times. No other central defender has come close to equaling those numbers because the strategy over the past two years has been to start Sauerbrunn alongside either Naomi Girma or Alanna Cook. In other words, a young, greener player paired next to one of the most experienced veterans on the United States squad seemed like a recipe for success. With Saurerbrunn’s injury, however, that’s obviously been blown out of the water.
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