Women’s professional soccer fans have become accustomed to seeing one name week after week. Before last weekend, Becky Sauerbrunn had played every minute of every game in Women’s Professional Soccer.
That’s 49 games over the course of three seasons. Four thousand, four hundred and ten minutes of soccer.
When Sauerbrunn’s name was released as one of the twenty one who would represent the United States in Germany, it meant that eventually her iron woman streak would have to come to an end.
Sauerbrunn netted two full 90s in the team’s domestic friendlies against Japan on May 14 and May 18 before coming on as a late sub in the USA’s 1-0 victory over Mexico on June 5.
I was able to catch up with the magicJack defender just before the team left for Europe about making the World Cup roster, her WPS iron woman streak, adjusting to West Palm Beach weather and more.
What was your reaction to being named to the World Cup team?
Pia held individual meetings with every player a couple days before the actual roster was publicly announced, so fortunately only she saw my reaction. I was surprised because I knew the decision could have gone either way. Then I was fighting back tears. Tears of joy, relief, stress...who knows. At least Pia didn’t waste any time telling me, the meeting took probably 3 minutes.
In 2008, I was fresh off of my last college season of eligibility. I was not the most confident player, and I had a few weaknesses in my game that prevented me from making the jump into international soccer.
When I got invited back a couple years later, the biggest difference for me was the experience I gained from two years in the WPS as well as knowing that I had nothing to lose. I was invited into a camp last minute as an alternate because of an injury.
I would play my style of soccer to the best of my ability, control the things I could control and let Pia decide.
The US played three matches in a three week span in preparation for the World Cup.
What things were working well for you guys as a team and what do you think needs to be improved upon before the opening match in Germany?
It was important for us in the Japan games to experience the style of play from an Asian opponent. North Korea, our first match in the WC, plays a similar possession-oriented style.
We defended well as a team and that will be extremely important going ahead. We also generated a good amount of chances in the past three games. I think communication can always be improved.
And at this point, it's the little things that are really going to make the difference so our accuracy in passing, shooting, and starting position will be huge.
Tarp is a phenomenal player, one of my favorites on the team. She has amazing vision and the technical ability to create plays from that awareness. We lose a quality player, but we also lose an experienced and calming personality. She's a lovely person to be around.
Kelly O'Hara is absolute energy. She plays with a lot of energy and never quits on a play. She's very good on both sides of the ball, especially on offense as she is an absolute nuisance to defend. I think her energy is contagious, and in these WC games, I think she'll be someone who will break people out of their nervousness.
How much do you think that playing in WPS has impacted you making it back up to the full team in time for this World Cup? If there was no league (like the cycle for the 2007 World Cup and 2008 Olympics) do you think you would have gotten a second chance?
I am so indebted to the WPS for getting me back in with the national team. Not only for giving me a platform to perform in front of the national team coaching staff, but for the training I received day in and day out with some of the best players in the world.
I truly believe I would never have gotten that second chance. And I wouldn’t have been prepared for that second chance without the quality competition in the WPS.
A lot of luck! When you think of all the unfortunate things that can happen to a player before a game like an illness or an injury, what else can it be but luck? I prepare my body as best I can with my training and recovery, and I’m sure that helps, but it’s also very lucky that I’ve been able to do what I have.
With you making the World Cup roster, that streak will come to an end, but I’m sure that you wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?
If the streak has to end then making a World Cup roster is the absolute best reason for it! It is bittersweet though. I owe so much to the WPS for giving me the opportunity for making the roster in the first place. I’m sad I’ll be missing WPS games while I’m in Germany and simultaneously thrilled that I get to experience soccer at the highest international level in Germany.
How difficult was it for you to balance both club and country, despite having training camp for the national team in West Palm Beach with magicJack in Boca Raton? Was it easier or harder for you?
What has the move from Washington D.C. to South Florida been like for you?
It’s been a pretty smooth transition from D.C. to West Palm Beach as far as soccer goes. I have played with several of these players in the past and have a general idea of how everyone plays. And the newer players are all quality so the level of soccer is always high.
The sun and the heat on the other hand were things I was not ready for. It seems like I wear multiple layers of 100 SPF sun screen and still get burned. And I pretty much live in an ice bath.
Lauren Green is a correspondent for Bleacher Report covering Women's Professional Soccer and the US Women's National team. She can be reached for comment or hire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All quotes were obtained firsthand.