Few players reinvent themselves on the verge of turning 30, but Emily Sonnett is living that reality right now.
Sonnett’s year began with a surprise trade from the Washington Spirit to OL Reign. The cross-country move to Seattle coincided with a shift from her usual position of center back to a defensive midfield role. It was not an outlandish idea from Reign head coach Laura Harvey — Sonnett played the position at times in college and — but it was a calculated risk. Former U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski eventually came around to the idea of Sonnett in that No. 6 role for the United States’ Round-of-16 match against Sweden at the 2023 World Cup. That is when the world began to notice Sonnett as a No. 6.
Now, Sonnett looks like at least the immediate answer to a question that plagued the Americans for the past two years: Who can fill such a critical role?
Granted, the sample size is small, but the results are telling. That match against Sweden was easily the Americans’ best performance at the World Cup despite elimination. Sonnett was one of only two lineup changes from the lackluster, scoreless draw with Portugal days prior. Since then, under interim U.S. coach Twila Kilgore, Sonnett has started all four matches for the U.S. in that holding midfield role. Sunday was the encore to her breakout.
“Sonnett is a great organizer,” Kilgore said on Sunday. “She is another coach on the field in a lot of different ways. She works with us on the game plan. Live every player, [she] understands what her role is, understands what the team is trying to do in every specific phase but also what her specific role is in each phase.”
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