World-class defender debuts with D.C. United Women Thursday in Dayton, Ohio
Boyds, Md.- Chances are, D.C. United Women defender Becky Sauerbrunn is going to remember Memorial Day Weekend 2012 for the rest of her life.
In a span of just 48 hours, the 26-year-old center back was named to the final U.S. Women’s National Team roster for the 2012 London Olympics and then played 28 minutes in the team’s 4-1 international friendly win over China in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 18,000 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
“It was already unreal that I just found out I’m going to the Olympics, and then the crowd at PPL Park was amazing,” Sauerbrunn told dcunitedwomen.com. “I feel like it was very much what we can expect at the Olympics as far as the atmosphere goes, so it’s a great experience to have going in.”
Sauerbrunn has another big week ahead of her as well, as she prepares to make her debut with the Black-and-Red in Ohio for two Atlantic Division match-ups with the Dayton Dutch Lions. United Women will play the Dutch Lions on Thursday and again on Saturday in Dayton, which for Sauerbrunn will be an opportunity to connect with her teammates and learn Head Coach Mike Jorden’s system.
“My goal is to get to know the team and understand the style of play, and to figure out the role they want me to play,” said Sauerbrunn about the upcoming road trip with D.C. United Women. “I’m really happy with how the team is doing and I’m excited to be able to join them. I plan to work to the best of my abilities and do whatever I can to help the team.”
As for last weekend, Sauerbrunn found out she had made the final 18-player Olympic roster just a day before Sunday’s friendly match with China in a private meeting with Head Coach Pia Sundhage. Sauerbrunn said she was confident she would make the team, but was still nervous going into the meeting.
“(Sundhage) told me pretty much right at the beginning of the meeting that I would be going, which took all the pressure out of it,” said Sauerbrunn. “She said she was happy with how I had played up until this point, and how I played in the World Cup Semi-Final against France, and that she felt comfortable throwing me into any situation and would feel good about it.”
Sundhage told Sauerbrunn that she will be behind Rachel Buehler and Christie Rampone on the depth chart, but is likely to receive significant minutes in the London Olympics as a substitute for any defensive position on the field.
“When you get to this level of soccer confidence makes a huge difference, so to know that I have her behind me, it means a lot,” said Sauerbrunn on her coach.
On Sunday, Sauerbrunn replaced team captain Rampone in the 62nd minute and helped the U.S. hold China scoreless for the remainder of the match as they cruised to a three-goal victory, highlighted by a brace from Alex Morgan. The mid-second half substitution seems exactly the role Sauerbrunn is likely to see this summer in the Olympics.
“I’m not sure if that was part of (Pia’s) tactics but I do think that’s the role that she set out for me,” said Sauerbrunn. “I think she was helping me to embrace the role.”
Despite her ridiculously busy Olympic team schedule, Sauerbrunn said fitting another W-League season into her summer was a top priority because of her dedication to the league, and women’s soccer as a whole. Sauerbrunn played in the W-League when she was in college at the University of Virginia, and said that she, along with her Olympic squad teammates are committed to helping the league prosper especially after the recent folding of WPS.
Sauerbrunn said D.C. United Women was a perfect fit for her because she likes the idea of women’s teams partnering with MLS teams as they seek to promote brand recognition and upturn the women’s game. She also encourages D.C. United fans, and all soccer fans in the D.C. area to come out to the Maryland SoccerPlex this summer to support D.C. United Women both when she’s playing, and while she’s away with the National Team preparing for the Olympics.
“Hopefully a lot of the people who support the men’s side will start to come out to women’s games and realize that it has some really high-quality soccer as well,” she said. “There are so many quality women’s players in the U.S. and in this area especially. D.C. United Women fans who come out to our games will definitely be impressed with the level of soccer and the energy we bring when we play.”
Sauerbrunn, who turns 27 on June 6, will make her first appearances of the season in D.C. United Women’s two away matches this week in Dayton, and is expected to make her home debut on Wednesday, June 20 at the SoccerPlex against Fredericksburg. Fans can also expect to see Sauerbrunn in home matches on June 23 against Virginia Beach, and on July 7 in the team’s regular season home finale against Dayton.