all scores

Becky Sauerbrunn will test free agency after Thorns’ playoff exit

(Michael Thomas Shroyer/USA TODAY Sports)

Becky Sauerbrunn is going to test the waters of free agency.

The 38-year-old defender has played for three different teams in her NWSL career, including the Utah Royals, who are set to make their return to the league, and FC Kansas City. But she’s been with Portland since 2020, and she won an a NWSL championship with the team in 2022.

Heading into the offseason, though, she will experience free agency for the first time since it began in 2022 under the league’s first-ever collective bargaining agreement with the NWSL Players Association.

“You know, our PA fought very hard for free agency,” Sauerbrunn said. “And so I absolutely am going to experience what it’s like to be a free agent and then kind of see where it all pans out.”

Of course, Sauerbrunn still could end up sticking with the Thorns. And if she does want to stay in Portland, it could behoove her to wait on signing a new contract until after the expansion draft on Dec. 15, as free agents are not available for selection and therefore do not need to be protected.

Still, Sauerbrunn also recognizes that tides can change, and that’s all just a part of the game, she said after Portland’s NWSL semifinal loss.

“I think we as just being professionals, like we know that the team that you’re with, can always change,” Sauerbrunn said. “And we have been very well aware of that through this year. It’s actually something like that motivated us. The women in this locker room will never be the same after this year.”

The Thorns really took time to appreciate “every single moment that we’ve had together,” Sauerbrunn said. But, the locker room changing in the offseason, is a “sad fact of being professional athletes.”

“Right now it hurts. Yeah, it’s tough,” head coach Mike Norris said. “I think whether you’ve got contracts or not, I think the nature of this business, when you end a season, there’s a very good chance it’s not going to be the same group.

“I think there’s hurt right now. But there’s a lot of pride. I think this group has been through a lot in my time with the club. And particularly in my role here through the offseason, through the season. It’s been bumpy, but the group stuck together. They’re a really resilient group to take pride in the excellence in terms of how they show up every day for the fans every day for each other.”