Graham Hays of ESPNW profiles Becky Sauerbrunn, the soft-spoken, cerebral co-captain of the U.S. women’s team.
Sauerbrunn, 31, is one of the best (and most underrated) defenders on the planet. But starting out, she struggled to find her place on the U.S. team.
After her debut in 2008, she spent two years trying — and mostly failing — to make an impression on Pia Sundhage, then the U.S. coach. It wasn’t until 2010 that she broke through, earning a coveted spot on the roster for the 2011 World Cup.
She’s never forgotten how difficult those two years were, she tells Hays. That’s one of the reasons she goes out of her way to counsel and console today’s young players.
Success, she tells them, may seem a long way off. But stick with it. The rewards are worth the pain.
“In 2010, when I was fighting my way back on, it was trying to prove that I deserved to be on the team,” she says. “And in a sense, I’m still proving that to this day. I’ve been made a co-captain, and I have this feeling that I have to prove to everyone that I deserve that honor.
“So every day I’m just as hungry as I was in 2010 to prove that I deserve to be where I am.”