USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn will miss World Cup with foot injury

United States women’s national team defender and team captain Becky Sauerbrunn has been ruled out of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup due to a foot injury she sustained with the Portland Thorns, sources confirmed to FOX Sports on Friday. The news was first reported by The Athletic.

Sauerbrunn confirmed the news in a tweet on Friday.

Sauerbrunn, 38, and her leadership will be sorely missed on the team. She was expected to play in her fourth — and likely final — World Cup with the hope she would play a major role in bringing the USWNT a historic third straight title. No team – men’s or women’s – has ever completed a three-peat in a World Cup.

But Sauerbrunn is dealing with a foot injury she sustained playing for the Thorns in April. She has not played for her club since the 23 minutes she earned in a June 3 match against OL Reign. She did not play in the June 11 match against the Orlando Pride.

Sauerbrunn, who is also the president of the USWNT players association, has 216 caps for the U.S. She is also a two-time Olympian, winning gold with the U.S. in 2012 and bronze in 2021. Sources have described her emotional state right now as “bummed.”

Many teams heading to Australia and New Zealand for this summer’s World Cup have had to overcome devastating injuries. England, for example, won’t have its captain Leah Williamson as well as several other playmakers. The USWNT has not been immune, losing star forward Mallory Swanson in April when she tore her patella tendon during a friendly against Ireland. 

There’s no doubt that this injury is extra tough not just for Sauerbrunn, but for her teammates. Players gush about their fearless leader anytime they can, as she’s set and been an example for so many of the younger members of this team.

“Becky has done so much to be in the place she is today,” Lindsey Horan told FOX Sports earlier this year. “She’s that person that never expects a call in to national team camp even though she’s the captain. She never expects to be starting a game. She’s constantly trying to get better, constantly asking questions. 

“But she’s also like a go-to. She’s the person on the team you want to go to and ask questions. Anything that has ever come up on the field or off the field, I go to Becky. It’s a nice, comfortable feeling to have. She didn’t have to do that for me when I was younger and new on the team. And she owns that and it’s awesome.”

Sauerbrunn is a vocal and staunch advocate for so many other groups, too. She wrote an op-ed earlier this year supporting transgender girls in her home state of Missouri and is an Athlete Ally Ambassador. Sauerbrunn is so celebrated back home in St. Louis, that her high school named its soccer field after her.

But perhaps the most remarkable part of her legacy will be how she helped lead the charge for equal pay. She wasn’t on TV or doing media like teammates Alex Morgan or Megan Rapinoe, but that was her preference. She was more comfortable behind the scenes, reading contracts and leading negotiations with U.S. Soccer. 

“There is no me the way I am now without Becky,” Rapinoe told FOX Sports in February. “I feel that very much. 

“I feel like the real ones know what Becky has meant to this group on and off the field. And I think particularly off the field, there’s obviously certain players who are in the media and get more attention, but she’s the foundation of our entire generation’s legacy.”

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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