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Becky Sauerbrunn ‘knows how to lead the team’ in 200th USWNT cap

The USWNT has played its last game before the 2023 World Cup roster is announced in June. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Becky Sauerbrunn celebrated her 200th cap for the U.S. women’s national team Tuesday in her hometown of St. Louis, in a game she wasn’t even supposed to play in.

But of course she wasn’t going to miss this chance.

“I was very happy that she was able to celebrate her 200th cap in her city, in St. Louis,” USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “Even though the plan was for her not to play in the second game, we instrumented something because a legend like Becky deserves that.”

And the legend that is Becky nearly had a cherry on top of the celebration, with a header that hit the post and nearly resulted in her first USWNT goal. Andonovski called the near-miss “a good moment” on a play that was “very well-executed.”

“I pretty much blacked out, I don’t know what happened,” Sauerbrunn joked after the game. “It was a play designed for me and I blew it. But, super exciting. Needed to put it anywhere but where I did. … That would have been too good to be true.”

She played just 28 minutes due to load management, but still got to feel the love from her hometown.

“That crowd tonight was unbelievable,” she said. “It’s such a pleasure to play in atmospheres like this and for it to be my hometown and to have a moment where I can say thank you and goodbye, so it was nice.”

When asked after the game about Sauerbrunn, Andonovski spoke about the leadership the longtime captain brings to the squad, and about his longtime relationship with the defender.

“Becky and I go way back. I had a chance to work with her for a majority of my career. First in the club environment, and then on the national team. And every time I’ve worked with Becky, I have appointed or or helped appoint her as a captain on the team,” he said. “And the reason why is because I trust her. I trust that she can lead the team to success. She knows how to lead the team, she knows how to help the players.”

The team held a ceremony for Sauerbrunn prior to the game Tuesday, one which Andonovski said is “just for the team.”

“It was amazing to hear how the players talked about Becky and how much she means to them,” he said. “And how much of impact she has had, not just on the on the game globally or in the country or the team, but on individual players. And after everything. I had a chance to speak. I shared my experience briefly and told them how much she has impacted my career, as well. And I think it just speaks to who Becky Sauerbrunn is.”

Sauerbrunn herself was touched by the reception she received in St. Louis.

“It’s an honor — I was once one of those young girls watching this team, wanting to be on this team,” Sauerbrunn said of her celebration on Tuesday. “My message to them is — it’s so possible, anything is possible, as long as you love the game and you get the support that you need. And so, I would say that if your goal is to make it onto the national team, I am a representation of that being a possibility.”