When the United States women's national team announced its World Cup roster last week, one of the names to make the biggest waves in Women's Professional Soccer was that of Becky Sauerbrunn's because it meant the end of one of the league's most celebrated records. Since WPS began in 2009, only one player has competed in every minute of every game -- Sauerbrunn, earning her the "iron woman" title. Her call-up to the full national team means Sauerbrunn will eventually miss a WPS match to prepare for this summer's tournament in Germany.
"Isn't that amazing? How ironic," U.S. forward Abby Wambach said. Wambach has been Sauerbrunn's teammate with magicJack (formerly known as the Washington Freedom) for the past three season, and the two have played against each other many times in practice. "She does so many things that you wouldn't consider flashy. She's consistent. She is really good on the ball. She's just solid."
It's that kind of consistency that kept the 25-year-old defender in the starting lineup each week.
"It's just something I can be proud of," Sauerbrunn said of her streak. "I'm not scoring goals. I'm not really assisting. Defenders don't really get any sort of notoriety or anything like that. It was something I was proud of because it made me feel good that my teammates wanted me on the field, my coaches wanted me on the field. It was nice for me."
While she wasn't called into camp until after the 2010 WPS season finished, she kept playing for her club team while other players missed time for national team commitments. She currently sits atop the WPS charts with 47 consecutive regular-season games, totaling 4,230 minutes.
The U.S. women's national team beat Japan 2-0 this past weekend, and because regular starting defenders Christie Rampone and Amy LePeilbet missed the match with injuries, Sauerbrunn played the full 90 minutes. She paired well with Rachel Buehler in central defense and made several key defensive clearances.
For now in WPS, Sauerbrunn's streak still lives because magicJack had a bye week while the U.S. played Japan. Sauerbrunn returns to her club team this weekend and her iron woman streak will probably continue for two more weeks before it probably comes to an end.
"If the streak has to end, this is the absolute best reason that it's ending -- that I get to go to a World Cup," Sauerbrunn said. "It is kind of bittersweet because I owe WPS so much. Without WPS, I would not have made the national team. I know that just playing day in and day out with some of the best players in the world on a platform where the [national team] coaching staff could watch me every weekend is really the only reason."