Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn & Ali Krieger
It’s true what they say. “Offense wins games. Defense wins championships.” So, it’s time to meet the veteran defenders on the USA Women’s World Cup roster.
Defense Wins Championships
Three of the seven American defenders are playing in their third Women’s World Cup, leading the back line with experience and leadership. Let’s meet them.
You’ll usually see O’Hara playing right-back, and if she’s healthy, she’ll likely be the starting right-back for the USA in France. She is 30 years old and plays her club soccer for the Utah Royals.
- She was a forward at Stanford and was named the top player in women’s college soccer (the Hermann trophy) her senior season.
- Although she will most likely play right-back for the USA in France, she had been a lifelong forward for the US Youth National team until 2012 when Pia Sundhage had a hunch that she would be an excellent outside back.
- She’s a brainiac. At Stanford, she majored in science, technology and society with a focus in environmental engineering.
- She was born in, and grew up in, Georgia before going across the country for college.
- O’Hara does not shy away from a challenge. If a tactical foul needs to happen, she’ll take the yellow card for her team.
Sauerbrunn is 33 years old and will anchor the back line in France. She plays her club soccer for the Utah Royals.
- She grew up in Missouri and played varsity soccer, volleyball, and basketball in high school.
- She played college soccer for the University of Virginia Cavaliers and was named the ACC Defender of the Year her senior season.
- Widely regarded as the “smartest player on the field,” she causes tactical headaches for the opponent’s attacking players.
- She has two older brothers who would torment her growing up. (example: they would enjoy seeing how far they could throw her off the couch)
- She loves ZELDA (see podcast above)
Kriger is playing in her third Women’s World Cup. She brings true veteran leadership at 34 years old, and she plays her club soccer for the Orlando Pride.
- You will NEVER see her without mascara.
- She played her entire youth soccer career as a Sparkler. Her youth team was the “Prince William Sparklers” in Northern Virginia.
- She was an attacking player and midfielder until her senior year of college at Penn State, when she became a team captain and moved to defense.
- In between her junior and senior college soccer seasons, she was feeling shortness of breath and went to the doctor as a precaution. Doctors found that she had developed a pulmonary embolism (blood clots that travelled to her lungs). They told her that had she just gone to bed instead of to the hospital, she probably would have died in her sleep that night.
- At her first Women’s World Cup in 2011, she was one of only four American players to play every minute of every game.
Be sure to “like” US Soccer on Facebook so you can see all of the players’ stories US Soccer has prepared for us to enjoy, too. https://www.facebook.com/officialussoccer/videos/871496889875351/