Sauerbrunn, Johnston, Brian out for US on Saturday

Jeff Kassouf January 22, 2016 111
Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston will both miss Saturday's USWNT match against Ireland. (Getty Images)

Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston will both miss Saturday’s USWNT match against Ireland. (Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team will be without defenders Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston as well as midfielder Morgan Brian due to injury on Saturday for the team’s firsts match of 2016, against Ireland in San Diego, Calif.

Sauerbrunn and Johnston are both back to full training, per a U.S. Soccer representative. Sauerbrunn has been dealing with a knee injury in camp and Johnston had a groin issue, but both are being held out of Saturday’s games as precautionary measures. Brian recently picked picked up a knee injury during training. They are expected to be ready for Olympic qualifying, which begins on Feb. 10.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis is short on center backs with Sauerbrunn and Johnston out Saturday. Christie Rampone is also out several weeks after having knee surgery in December. That leaves Whitney Engen and recent No. 1 overall NWSL Draft pick Emily Sonnett as the lone remaining center backs on the roster for Saturday. Sonnett and Engen look like likely starters for Saturday, but don’t be surprised if fullback Ali Krieger gets a look as a center back at some point on Saturday against a relatively weak Ireland team. With the U.S. light on numbers at center back, Krieger has spent some time training in the position during this January camp.

[MORE: Major changes define USWNT’s first training camp roster of 2016]

Withholding clear starters Sauerbrunn and Johnston from the lineup will allow U.S. coach Jill Ellis to get an extensive look at Sonnett and Engen, a pair of center backs who have seen limited game action who, along with Rampone, are likely fighting for one spot on the 18-player Olympic roster.

Sauerbrunn was recently appointed co-captain of the U.S. women along with midfielder Carli Lloyd, who was recently named the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. Both Sauerbrunn and Lloyd were essential to the United States’ 2015 World Cup triumph.

Saturday’s match is the first of the calendar year for the U.S. women, who ended their 2015 campaign with a shocking but, as Abby Wambach called it, fitting loss to China at the Superdome in New Orleans, La. The loss snapped a 104-game, 11-year home unbeaten streak for the United States.

So the U.S. women start anew on Saturday, beginning another challenging calendar year in which they are faced with building for the future while competing in the present. It’s hardly a groundbreaking concept, but it is one of particular scrutiny for the No. 1 team in the world, fresh off a World Cup title.

[MORE: Pugh reverses course, will play for UCLA  |  New allocation rules for NWSL]

Winning a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in 2016 is the goal. The Americans will likely be favorites heading into the tournament, a competition whose setup — six games in 16 days for the finalists with only an 18-player roster — lends to the United States’ strengths in depth and fitness.

Ireland should serve as a soft warm-up, with the U.S. having won all 11 matchups by a combined score of 40-1, including a 3-0 victory last May ahead of the World Cup.

Olympic qualifying begins in Frisco, Texas on Feb. 10 with group games against Puerto Rico, Mexico and Costa Rica. The top two teams from the group advance to the semifinals, where winners of those semifinals will book tickets to the Olympics. The U.S. and Canada are heavy favorites for the two Olympic berths.

[MORE: USWNT to host England, France, Germany in March tournament]

  • Jersey Shore Rises

    Jeff, I noticed that both Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston are expected to be ready for the RIO qalifying but what about Morgan Biran?

    • dw

      Horan stands to benefit greatly from this development.

      • Jersey Shore Rises

        I was impressed watching Horan’s passing in her recent USWNT games. I always knew she was a great goal scorer but I was not aware of her tactical abilities in the passing game.

        • Kevin

          She has great field awareness.

          • dw

            I’m going to qualify that with “she showed great field awareness in one game”. It’s not that I don’t agree, but she’s been playing power forward for PSG when she wasn’t hurt. Consistency is the key to USWNT success, not being a one-game wonder. I do believe that Horan will show herself to be the real deal. But let’s just say I remain “cautiously optimistic.”

          • Kevin

            I see her field awareness in every single game. That’s not an attribute that comes and goes from game to game. She might not be consistent every game, but that doesn’t have anything to do with her field awareness. Field awareness alone isn’t enough though.

            I think the thing that hurts her the most right now is she’s a little more sluggish and slower than the other players around her.

            She’s only 21, so hopefully she continues to improve her skills and fitness, but you can’t teach speed. I’m afraid this is her main Achilles heel and I hope it’s something she can overcome.

          • guest

            “hopefully she continues to improve her … fitness”

            Good grief, if she’s not fit at 21, I don’t know when she will ever be. Maybe fewer macaroons?

          • mockmook

            She was out injured not too long before her initial USA appearances for JE.

            She better be fit now (assuming she wasn’t before).

          • Steglitz49

            You need 3 main ingredients to reach the top: ball skills, vision (awareness) and acceleration. Acceleration, not speed.

            The players that have the lot are the ones that are outstanding.

            Lindsey needs to work on her 40 yds dash.

          • rkmid71

            40 yard dash and quickness / change of direction — to some extent I think its fast twitch muscles. There is also technique involved and I believe everyone can improve with training … but I think there is a nature component to it as well in terms of muscle type.

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed. It is about natural talent, application and graft.

          • Kevin

            What do you think sluggish means?

          • Steglitz49

            “sluggish and slower” is a bit like the Common Prayer Book, that is you write the same thing twice using different words to reinforce the message.

            My point was that acceleration is what matters, not speed itself.

          • Vco2217

            Did you watch PSG this season? Their front 3 are pretty mobile & she probably spent more time out wide than as a ‘power forward’.

          • mockmook
      • Guest

        Let’s see how well she can play without Brian. It might be not so beneficial after all.

    • ruarc

      She’s been nursing that knee since at least the point when they came back from the WC to NWSL. Seems like Ellis may just be having her rest it since she really doesn’t need to be on it with all the call ups to try.

    • guest

      Looks like it was nothing serious, because she was training with the team for the past 2 days.

  • HOFCToDi

    Jill Ellis to Dawn Scott,

    You have the honors of cleaning the cobwebs off Whitney Engen.

    ussoccer.com/womens-national-team/coaching-staff

    • dw

      Pfft. Likely the injuries to our starters is because one of them is overplaying them and the other is over training them.

  • dw

    Here we go, baptism by fire for the Engen/Sonnett pairing. How in bloody hell are we down to our 4th and 5th CBs 3 weeks out from OG quallies? Too many beep tests and too much battle rope?

    And why not add a CB for a couple of weeks? Splurge a little…

    • HOFCToDi

      At the age of 40, Christie Rampone can’t crawl out of bed without getting injured these days.

      • dw

        Ok, then thank her for her service, and you don’t even need to spend for that extra CB, it would likely be a savings. How does this not happen again? How is Lauren Barnes not in camp?

        • guest

          Who’s Lauren Barnes? Isn’t she the one who tackled Tymrak inside the box in the NWSL final because of her slow reaction time, or was it that Tymrak was too quick for her? Either way, I wouldn’t think she’s the best choice for back.

          • HOFCToDi

            I thought that was Keelin Winters.

          • guest

            Keelin pulled a jiu jitsu move on Tymrak and threw her to the ground, but at least it was outside the box. The Barnes tackle was more out of sheer desperation because if Tymrak gets past her, she’s in on goal.

          • Ethan

            That was Kendall Fletcher. I think most Seattle fans have been quite happy with Fletcher’s overall performance these last two seasons though. I can’t comment specifically on Barnes’ play, but she is highly respected by a lot of people who follow Seattle and the NWSL. (From a subjective standpoint, I like the idea of a left-footed center back on the NT.)

          • guest

            Fletcher, Barnes. I couldn’t pick either of them out of a line up.

          • HOFCToDi

            Kendall Fletcher is currently in …….

            youtube.com/watch?v=b6oAFlPLGA8

            A Land Down Under – Women at Work

          • Breakers fan

            Would be interesting to hear an all-female band cover this. If one is done I hope they call themselves the name you present above. Tremendous song – great rhythm, terrific melody.

          • Lorehead

            There would be legal issues. The song quotes two lines of “Kookaburra,” which the writers didn’t realize was a copyrighted song. To this day, a share of the royalties from “A Land Down Under” have to go to the owners of “Kookaburra.”

          • Breakers fan

            Interesting- thanks. I think I heard this a long time ago. I now want to hear “Kookaburra”. What an unexpected windfall that person or persons have received.
            Maybe youtube has some female singer doing a cover of this. I’ll check.

          • dw

            Wow, even for a positronic brain, that’s some serious 80’s music trivia…

          • guest

            “Kookaburra in the Old Gum Tree”? I don’t see any common lyrics between the two.

          • mockmook
          • Lorehead

            The melody, not the lyrics.

        • HOFCToDi

          Jill Ellis did not have the guts to boot Christie Rampone off the USWNT roster. Meanwhile, the list of former USWNT players that recently retired:

          Boxx
          Wambach
          LePeilbet
          Chalupny
          Van Hollebeke
          Cox
          Holiday

          • dw

            Rhetorical, dude, rhetorical…

          • HOFCToDi

            Splurge a little…

            With the pending Hawaiian lawsuit, you have to be kidding.

          • dw

            There you go then. Show CR3 the door and save up for your legal fees. I guess the days of bribes and kickbacks are gone with Big Brother watching…

          • HOFCToDi

            Too late.

            Jill Ellis was recently in Switzerland and made a detour to a Swiss bank on her way to the FIFA Awards Ceremony. The US Justice Department is too busy investigating FIFA officials these days to worry about a Rampone kickback.

          • Steglitz49

            What i happening with the Hawaiian lawsuit? Have not seen anything.

          • Steglitz49

            Of those Cox, LePeilbet and RVH didi not get a WC winners medal. No justice.

          • rkmid71

            Is Rampone going to be like Boxx was for WC? Out injured, not playing, yet making the OG roster? And now injuries to Sauerbrunn and Johnston — conveniently opening the door to her possible selection as a precautionary measure. Hopefully Sonnett and Engen and/or Krieger are solid.

          • Maybe Sauerbrunn and Johnston being out briefly can do for Engen and Sonnet what Rampone being out did for Johnston.

            ^I realize this is a confusing sentence. LOL. Engen & Sonnett would never have gotten a look for a full game without the other 3 CBs out injured at one time. I was never sold on Engen, but maybe this can be the push that finally gets her in line ahead of Rampone.

    • HOFCToDi

      New insurance company, new trainers this year:

      youtube.com/watch?v=Pa5mj6ifCz4

    • Steglitz49

      The US will walk the OG qualifiers. Only NZ has an easier ride.

  • dw

    Sort of forgot about this fixture with Snowmageddon 2, Electric Boogaloo bearing down on us here. Hope the power stays on so I can watch (it should).

    • Breakers fan

      Please post a video of yourself Breakin’ in the Snow later this weekend!

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    • Nicole C.

      We have over 20 inches (and counting) here. Stay warm.

      • mockmook

        …..Must…..resist…..snark…..reply…..

        • Nicole C.

          Steg, is that you in there?

          • mockmook

            Steg would have posted his ‘unfiltered’ reply.

            Oh, what the heck, I’ll give my reply:

            “Over 20 inches?!!! Soon you’ll have a yard in your yard!!!”

            What did you think my reply would be? 🙂

  • dw
  • HOFCToDi

    …….. this is a Big Country

    youtube.com/watch?v=di-_n05tppo

    • Cc W

      Thank you for this!
      …Dreams stay with you…So my dream is that JJ and the Broon heal up quickly!

  • Cc W

    Well, let’s see what Engen can do – she’s been part of the WC team, so time to earn her keep. Better to keep JJ and Broon off the pitch and let them get healthy, Ireland shouldn’t really test them too much and if they do, we have some issues.
    Ellis is picking the Concacaf squad after this game, so let’s see what the young guns can do.
    By the way – is the squad 20 for concacaf?

    • Katie Curtiss

      The squad is 18

      • dw

        I believe it is 20 for quallies.

      • Cc W

        Thanks

    • HOFCToDi

      Regulations for the Olympic Football Tournaments

      resources.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/02/54/40/46/oftsregulationsrio2016-e_neutral.pdf

      22 Player lists – preliminary competitions (page 33)

      1. 20 players (eleven selected players and nine substitutes) shall be eligible to take part in the matches. Three of these 20 players must be goalkeepers, with the number one shirt being reserved for one of them. All goalkeepers and the captain must be identified as such.

      • Cc W

        Thanks – that does allow for several new players to get a chance to make the team. I’ll be watching Engen to see if she can keep her spot – HAO as well. Pinoe seems to be mending quickly – I wonder if she’ll make it back in time or if it is too much to ask.

        • mockmook

          I just asked her, and she said that is too much to ask, but I can ask again….

          • Cc W

            LOL

  • Breakers fan

    A little on the too-vague side for my liking: “knee injury” for Becky and Morgan B. That could either be very serious, or….what would a non-serious knee injury be? A while back we thought Alex Morgan just had a bone bruise that I think most people thought had healed, and then the next thing you know she’s on the surgery table. I wonder if there is anything known behind the vague description offered here.

    And I, and I’m sure others here, know from experience that if you don’t rest a bad groin pull sufficiently — read: weeks, sometimes — it can plague you for a loonngg time, if you rush the return and then re-pull it. I hope they realize this and give JJ the appropriate rest she may need, depending on the severity of the injury.

    • Steglitz49

      Ireland is a team that the US can and should experiment against. There is no reason to explain the absences of certain players.

      The US will qualify for Rio in a walk. Then the serious stuff starts.

      • guest

        Sorry, the USWNT does not do “experiment.” US Soccer is primarily a marketing organization. They pick the future stars, package, promote, and present them to the viewing public in the hopes that we’ll buy the tickets and the over-priced merchandise. But how well they can actually play football is a different matter. How else do you explain the random method used in their selection? A handful of coaches with strong biases and personal opinions picking between players they’ve coached and have strong emotional attachments to, and other players they know very little about. What could possibly go wrong here?

        • HOFCToDi

          What could possibly go wrong here?

          1. Kristie Mewis
          2. Samantha Mewis

          Deja Vu

          • Steglitz49

            I would have thought that two sisters on the team would be a good marketing angle. One, the adventurous one has been playing in the Axis countries while the other has stayed home goody-two-shoes.

            We need the beans on their lovers, of course, and any other juicy gossip.

          • Breakers fan

            Booo!!! I beg to differ, sir. Let’s sit down and watch all minutes played from these 2 on the NT, and then we can re-discuss the matter. But they’re the default scapegoat from some, in my opinion, not-particularly-close viewers. But, hey, it’s a message board, it’s made for people having different opinions.

          • Steglitz49

            It is tough at the top. Someone’s breath is another’s bread and a third’s death.

            Alex got her real chance because Lauren got injured. Japan won WC-11 but Alex became a star. The way the PR worked, you would have thought that America won.

            Kristie has worked hard on improving her game. It can’t be fun seeing your sister getting calls and not you. At least Yuki and Asano are Nadeshikos together even if they refuse to play for the same clubs.

        • Steglitz49

          Does USSoccer hold the majority of the shares in a cosmetics firm making body paint?

    • guest

      It’s already stated in the article that they are back to full training. Brian’s injury happened this week, but for the past two days she was back to training with the team too. It’s just precautionary.

      • Breakers fan

        Thank you. That was the one sentence I didn’t read. It probably was just a minor knock (and pull for JJ) of some sort.

  • Lorehead

    Speaking of Julie Johnston and Morgan Brian getting left out, did you know there are more Costa Ricans than Americans on the CONCACAF women’s best XI? Makes you wonder how they could have lost the CONCACAF championship 0–6 and been eliminated at the World Cup without winning a single match.

    • Steglitz49

      It is like all those All Star or World Teams voted on by the great and the good. The Hermann trophy is another.

      A fine example is the Hockey Junior WC just completed in Finland. The All Star team had a Swedish goalie, an American back and forward, a back and two forwards from Finland.

      The final was won 4-3 on a golden goal by Finland defeating Russia. Finalnd beat Sweden 2-1 in their SF while Russia beat the US 2-1. In their group game Sweden beat the US but the US beat Sweden to take the bronze.

      Not one single Russian in the All Star team. Yet the final went into extra time at 3-3.

    • Guest

      Was the voting only fan voting? That CONCACAF best XI is terrible for the most part although I do agree with the Cruz support. Cruz is probably the best midfielder in CONCACAF.

      • JL

        Fan voting accounts for 1/3rd of the voting. Coaches and players are 1/3rd, and the media is the other 1/3rd.

  • sweetjazz3

    Really excited about the upcoming year and the new talent coming in, but it will be bittersweet with my favorite player (Holiday) now retired.

  • mockmook

    Time to try stuff out — and give our “super trio” some confidence:

    http://drawformation.com/post/56a3a857a10b0/sm-56a3a857a10b0.png

    O’Hara gets the start at LB because of her outstanding play in practice /s

    And, JE experiments with this crazy thing called a DM (using an actual defender). She learns that she likes it, then she wants more, More, MORE!!! Next thing you know, we are playing a 3-5-2 with Sonnett and Westphal as DMs — my crystal ball sees clearly and true (not like YOU).

    • guest

      Speaking of crystal, where is Dunn? And how do you know how practices are going?

      • mockmook

        “where is Dunn?”

        San Diego. Why do you ask?

        “how do you know how practices are going?”

        Please googlify “/s”

        • guest

          We need a better source than “the internet.”

          • mockmook

            http://www.internetslang.com/_2FS-meaning-definition.asp

            I suppose I should have said: Please googlify “/s meaning”

          • guest

            JFC googlify that, chump.

          • mockmook

            R. U. Sirius

          • guest

            There’s really no way of knowing whether you’re kidding or not, and how young do you have to be to know what “/s” means? Maybe next time just use a smiley face.

      • HOFCToDi

        Gallery: U.S. WNT Train Ahead Republic of Ireland Match

        ussoccer.com/stories/2016/01/22/16/45/160121-wnt-gallery-us-wnt-train-ahead-republic-of-ireland-match

    • Steglitz49

      Get rid of Krieger.

    • Breakers fan

      I only switch Hinkle and O’Hara because the former est une lefty. (a little Francais for you there). Other changes I would consider: S. Mewis for Sonnett, then Sonnett back for Krieger. Possibly Dunn for Horan but I do want to see Horan more so..maybe that stays. Love the Lavelle inclusion. And it’s about time we see Syd back upon le pitch. Imagine Dunn for Morgan and McCaffrey for Horan. Wow, speed city. This lineup would be so much fun to watch. That should count for something. This is reminiscent of the new lineup for the China WC game – and look what kind of energetic spark that catalyzed.

      • mockmook

        Fine, fine, FINE — Hinkle swaps with O’Hara — are you happy you bloodsucking vampire?

        RE: S.Mewii

        Did you not read the part where I said “a DM (using an actual defender)”?

        And, no, I’m not unusually testy today. Why do you ask?

        Glow-bull worming my foot!!!

        • Breakers fan

          Your thoughts, post-game, about the S. Mewis effort? I thought she played well. Considering her playing history, she was a leader in the middle of the field on a national champion, a team loaded with talent as we know– whether located precisely up or back in the field, CAM or DM, it’s not ALL that different – in both you’re in tight spaces and are looked to to distribute the ball.

        • Breakers fan

          By the way, I had to look up your last sentence. I was thinking I was out of touch with some youthful slang at first.

          • mockmook

            I had to avoid using the real term — otherwise I’d have to deal with a 50 page rebuttal/dissertation from Lorehead (no humor is programmed into THAT toaster).

    • Breakers fan

      A gal named Danny or Danielle is summoning you over for a chat….she’s kind of shy, so I thought I’d alert you to that finger that is beckoning ye.

    • Severus Snake

      This is fantasy, right? Fan favorites will start, featuring the newly crowned Nutmeg Queen aka Six Yard Line Superstar, subs will get 10 minutes at most, the newbies nothing at all.

  • AlexH

    Heading out to the Q! (with a detour to see the seals on La Jolla beach). I’ll post a report when I get back.

    • mockmook

      Where is the Q? Will Crystal Dunn be there?

      Sorry, those are rhetorical questions 🙂

      Have a great time!!!

    • guest

      Watch out for the gulls! And no selfies on the cliff!

    • plage nue

      Don’t take a northern detour to Black’s Beach.

  • mockmook

    Time to put on your game faces, losers!!!

    (And, I ain’t talking about the players)

  • mockmook

    Will be interesting how they set up. But, can’t they go one game without Lloyd?

    https://twitter.com/ussoccer_wnt/status/691014030589239296

    • guest

      I got Lloyd starting.

    • guest

      You gotta problem with Lloyd or something?

      • mockmook

        No, just think they could have used this game as an opportunity to evaluate someone else.

        • Steglitz49

          Indeed. A wasted opportunity.

    • AnotherGuest

      Lloyd has the best role on the team. She has essentially become a poacher for a team that creates chances at will. Why would she ever give that up.

      • mockmook

        Don’t expect her to. Do expect the coach to sit Lloyd when she isn’t needed.

    • Steglitz49

      As long as it is not a rum lot playing for captain Morgan, all will be well. I still would not select a certain player for the NT.