“I can’t talk about it much because I’ll probably start crying,” admitted a choked-up Kelley O’Hara when asked about Becky Sauerbrunn’s injury and subsequent exclusion from the United States roster for the upcoming World Cup this July in Australia and New Zealand.
Heartbreak was the overarching sentiment from head coach Vlatko Andonovski and every other U.S. teammate who spoke to the media Wednesday about Sauerbrunn’s injury as part of the official release of the United States World Cup roster.
Sauerbrunn was lauded as a wonderful leader and an even better person whose dedication to the team has helped shape it into the dominant force it is today. Sauerbrunn’s influence over the team — especially in this moment of transition — is wide-reaching.
Here are the full quotes on Sauerbrunn, her influence, and legacy from today’s press events:
Kelley O’Hara: ‘An added pressure’
“Losing Becky is a huge blow to this team. I’m devastated for her personally and I’m devasted for this team that she’s not going to be a part of it. I can’t talk about it much because I’ll probably start crying, but that being said, we have a really young team that is going to be really exciting. And Becky not being there, it’s going to put a lot of responsibility on all of us players who are veterans, who are experienced, who are the oldest of the bunch, and who know how these things go and what it takes to win. I think we all will feel an added pressure and responsibility because of that.”
Lynn Williams: ‘Becky’s given us all the tools that we need’
“Becky is a huge loss. There’s nobody like her. There is nobody who can emit what she does and have the years and years of experience that she brings to the team. So, she’s going to be a huge loss, obviously, as just that leader and obviously as an amazing soccer player. But I think moving forward, Becky has given us all the tools that we need to go forward and she’s going to be with us the whole entire way and be there in spirit. I’m sure she’s texting everybody because she’s a true professional, so she will be missed but she definitely won’t be forgotten because she’s already passed down all these amazing lessons.”
Sophia Smith: ‘Going to require a lot of players to step up’
“It’s heartbreaking, honestly. There aren’t really a lot of words because it’s just a big loss for us. Becky is someone that brings everything a team wants both on and off the field. She’s a leader, she’s a captain, she is a prime example of how one person should carry themselves not just on the field but through life. So not having Becky there, it’s going to be different. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to require a lot of players to step up and I think that’s a test we can accomplish if we stick together and I think, regardless, Becky will be there in spirit. She’s always still sending messages of encouragement and texts and always cheering us on. But not having Becky, it’s hard and it’s something that we’re going to have to deal with, but I still think we have a great roster and people to step up in all of these positions and win this World Cup.”
Crystal Dunn: ‘Someone that’s going to be greatly missed’
“When I got wind of Becky’s status, I was really heartbroken for her. She’s one of my really great friends, she’s an amazing teammate, and everyone in the world knows she’s an incredible leader. So losing her is bigger than just her play on the field. Her ability to gather the group and really lead us in the right direction at all times is something that we are going to greatly miss. I checked in with her, we’ve had a lot of communication back and forth and, you know, it hurts. She’s the leader that she is and she’s always thinking about the team first and I kind of had to tell her it’s okay to think about your situation and not only care about the team at this moment because at the end of the day were’ all human. And I think this is something that she really wanted to be a part of and I know that she’s hurting and I think every day she’ll probably be on the journey of healing from it but she is someone that’s going to be greatly missed. “
“As far as my leadership role, I don’t need the captain’s band to know that I’m good at leading in the way that I think I lead best. So I think, for me, a lot of people have been asking me questions like, do you consider yourself a leader? Are you more of a veteran player that likes to stay behind the scenes? Things like that. I lead on the field the best that I can. I lead from the sideline in any way that I can. And I think that everything I’ve learned from Becky is really all about being the best player showing up possible. And that’s not just on the field, that means encouraging your teammates. That means giving words of advice when you see fit and just overall being the best version of yourself in that environment. That is something that I’ve always learned from Becky and I’ll hope to try and do my best in leading this group in this World Cup.”
Alex Morgan: ‘When I got that news, I had to sit down for a little bit’
“I actually did speak with Becky and had no idea that she wouldn’t be coming to the World Cup. She told me that I was the second person to know and that she was still processing everything and I was immediately heartbroken for her. Becky is not only a huge presence on the field and a leader on the field, she’s a person who holds people accountable. She raises the level of standards on every team she’s on and having played with her now for over 12, 13 years I just have immense respect for her.
“So, when I got that news, I had to sit down for a little bit because I was honestly shocked and so heartbroken for her, but also for me and for this team because she’s just had this huge impact on me and so many players. I don’t think there’s a bad thing that’s come out of a teammate’s mouth about Becky ever in her career and that’s a testament to her as a leader, a person, a player. It’s just terrible news to have right before a World Cup. I know she’s going to be our biggest supporter as we go to the World Cup and try and bring back the trophy as we have for the last few times, but I’m sure that she’s still processing everything as some of us are who’ve been with her for many years.”
Naomi Girma: ‘People having to step up’
“I’m so heartbroken for her. She’s an incredible player and person and she’s definitely someone that I’ve looked up to in the center-back role and someone who’s guided me a lot since I’ve been on the national team. I think now it’s just people having to step up. Knowing that she’s been leading us for as long as she’s been captain and before that and knowing that [Alana Cook and I] are ready to take on that role while she’s not there.”
Vlatko Andonovski: ‘We’re all gutted
“I want to say that we’re all gutted for Becky. There’s no question that we’re going to miss Becky — we’re going to miss her on the field, we’re going to miss her off the field. If there’s someone that has a relationship and a connection and wanted Becky on this roster, that’s me. But that’s part of sports and we understand that things like this will happen, so we’re very excited with the team that we have and we’re very confident in the players that we have on the team that will be able to overcome deficiencies that may occur with Becky’s absence.”
He, when asked about who will be captain, he said: “The first thing I want to say is that Becky will always be our captain. That’s how we feel as a staff, that’s how the team feels, that’s how everybody feels. Becky is the women’s national team captain. Unfortunately, she will not be with us at the World Cup.”
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