Becky Sauerbrunn will not travel with the U.S. women’s national team to the 2023 World Cup due to an injury. But the longtime captain is sending a message to the next generation of USWNT leaders.
“This is your guys’ team now,” Sauerbrunn told her USWNT teammates Lynn Williams and Sam Mewis on the latest episode of their podcast. That’s the same message she is sharing with any USWNT teammates who have reached out to her about her absence from the World Cup roster.
The 38-year-old defender has been a mainstay on the national team since the 2011 World Cup, and this summer’s tournament would have been her fourth. She also became the first president of the USWNT Players Association in 2020, a position she still holds. Still, she remains demure when asked about her legacy.
“I’m not going to claim to have any sort of influence over anybody,” she said. “I hope that I have impacted people in a really positive way. I am really glad that the veteran leaders on the team made a pretty conscious effort to really start empowering that next group of players.
“So I do hope that we pass the baton on well, and that we’ll see that at the World Cup. But I’m not going to claim that I did anything crazy good, that’s gonna make that much of an impact.”
In passing the baton, Sauerbrunn has offered support in particular to 29-year-old midfielder Lindsey Horan, who has taken on the captain’s armband in Sauerbrunn’s absence at times.
“She gets to lead this team out at a World Cup and to really appreciate what that means, in the course of your career,” Sauerbrunn said. “Like, that’s such a crazy, cool accomplishment.”
Sauerbrunn referred to Horan as her “co-captain,” though USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not commit to a new captain Wednesday after the roster announcement.
Sauerbrunn also has been telling her teammates to soak in the moment, which is something that she says you can’t replicate, especially as she begins to look back on her career and appreciate it even in the face of her disappointment.
“I’m super upset about potentially missing my fourth World Cup, when, talk to me about 15 years ago, I never even thought I was gonna have a national team cap,” she said. “And so it’s kind of like, I can’t be too woe is me. I’ve already done a lot of things and have been very fortunate in my career. And so I’m trying to keep perspective on it as well.”