Skip to content

Sauerbrunn, Quon, and why its still too early to see NWSL’s influence on Sermanni’s choices

May 22, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT

Becky Sauerbrunn (C) congrtulates goal-s

It’s too early to tell who will be the NWSL’s Becky Sauerbrunn – somebody who used the ill-fated Women’s Professional Soccer as a springboard into the U.S. women’s national team. The then-Washington Freedom defender had seen some limited time with Pia Sundhage’s team before WPS began, but she wasn’t a real factor. By the time the league started in 2009, she’d been seen and judged; seemingly a long shot to forge a role with the national team.

In that new league, the Virginia grad was a stand-out, her cerebral leadership combining with a two-plus-year iron woman streak to force her way into the squad. With it, her recall became a symbol of hope of an array of professionals who, shut out by an increasingly stagnant national team roster, could see Sauerbrunn’s ascension as vindicating their persistence. Thanks to WPS seasons that put Sauerbrunn’s intelligence, consistency, and dependability on display, the now-FC Kansas City captain embedded herself at the international level. Now, after 42 caps, Sauerbrunn’s an obligatory call-up.

We’re now a month and a half into WPS2; or, WUSA3, depending on how you want to look at it. Tom Sermanni has been at NWSL games just about every weekend, and with every team streaming their home games online, the U.S’s new boss has seen all the potential candidates. After six weeks, there’s a pretty big body of evidence to suggest who is in form, so if somebody had emerged as an early Sauerbrunn, they would have called up, right?

The June 2 against Canada is a friendly. It’s on foreign soil, where there’s no significant need to sell tickets. It’s against a rival, but one that the U.S. faces with some regularity. With the World Cup two years out, there’s no pressing need to see how the Alex Morgans and Abby Wambachs of the world will do against the Canadians, even if it’s always good for the team to get time together. In a low-leverage situation where the information you gather about players is more important than the final result, doesn’t it make sense to call in a few more borderline players?

[MORE: Breaking down the 21 called into to face Canada.]

Perhaps. Perhaps Sermanni doesn’t agree that a month and a half of games is enough to justify any shakeups. And perhaps there haven’t been any players who’ve made a sufficient case, because when yesterday’s roster was announced, there were no huge surprises. No new Sauerbrunns had won a spot. Even the inclusion of an uncapped Amber Brooks caused little discussion, given her form at Bayern Munich and Shannon Boxx’s continued recovery from surgery. With a team as tight as the U.S. women’s national team, it might not be worth shaking things up, even if that means some of the same motives that kept players like Christen Press from breaking in appear to be in play.

That may also be why Yael Averbuch and Megan Rapinoe were the only surprise omissions, with U.S. Soccer making the point to explain Rapinoe, at a busy point on the calendar with Olympique Lyonnais, will join the team for June’s matches against South Korea. Megan Klingenberg was also a potential call in, but having only three national team caps, the omission of the former Tar Heel wasn’t a huge surprise. Alyssa Naeher could have gotten a look, with her season in Potsdam done, but her absence surprised no one.

The roster’s curiosities aren’t so much the omissions as two of the inclusions. Carli Lloyd, who spent the first part of the season recovering from a broken shoulder, has only made one brief substitute’s appearance for Western New York. Jillian Loyden, who broke her hand before Sky Blue FC’s season started, was recalled despite having yet to play a minute in the NWSL. Rather than look at Becky Edwards or McCall Zerboni in midfield, or give young Adrianna Franch another camp’s training in goal, Sermanni’s elected to stay the course.

It’s too early in Sermanni’s tenure (and NWSL’s existence) to start drawing conclusions, but it’s worth considering what it would take for somebody to be dropped from the national team. Lloyd and Loyden have barely played ahead of a friendly on foreign soil, yet they’re still in. Kelley O’Hara has inexplicably struggled for Sky Blue, and while it’s probably far too early to be dropping her from the national team, no natural left backs were called up. As the league moves forward, we’ll have to see if fitness or form influence national team recalls, because after Wednesday’s selection, the only thing we know will keep you from an invite are finals in UEFA Champions League and the French Cup. If that’s the standard, it’s going to by 2011-12 all over again.

If you’re looking for a drawback to the lack of turnover in a highly successful team, look to the Canada. Look to the squad they named on Wednesday. Illinois-born left back Rachel Quon, in her first season with the Chicago Red Stars, has been recalled by John Herdman, the Stanford alum having a connection to Canada through her father. The CSA still has you get her cleared, and who knows if the call-up will stick, but this could turn into a minor irritant for the U.S. No, Quon was never likely to be a major contributor for the national team, but if she evolves into a regular for Herdman, she’ll join Lauren Sesselman, Karina LeBlanc, and Chelsea Stewart as U.S.-born players who’ve elected to play for Canada (all with varying levels of connection to the States). Those aren’t Sydney Leroux-level players (somebody who made the opposite switch), but for a U.S. team looking at an improving rival, it should still be a concern.

There are two things that make Quon’s move particularly interesting. First, she’s been playing well, and when rumors circulated last week that the U.S. may have a surprise call-up, Quon’s name was one you could have inferred. Ultimately, however, it’s unclear she’s that much better of a long-term prospect than somebody like Sky Blue’s Kendall Johnson. Camille Levin, starting for Göteborg in Sweden, could also be an option. Quon may have a U-level pedigree, Stanford training, and be in form, but ultimately, the difference between her and Johnson could prove irrelevant.

The second curiosity may become more important. Left back is arguably the States’ weakest position, which only highlights the loss of a potential contributor. Kelley O’Hara’s first on that depth chart and played very well this winter, but while being shuttled between left back and left-wing for Sky Blue, O’Hara has struggled. If she carries that form into national team duty, Sermanni has problem. (Keep in mind, we’re still two years out from the World Cup.) Kristie Mewis, a natural attacking midfielder, is number two on the depth chart, through Crystal Dunn, Whitney Engen, Sauerbrunn, and even Megan Rapinoe are capable of playing left back.

It is troublesome that, in light of potentially losing Quon, there are no natural left backs on the roster, the team’s first choice is in a slump, and none of the alternatives are playing the position for their clubs. But perhaps more troublesome is a sacred cow syndrome that kept Press out of the team for so long and perhaps contributed to Quon’s Canada call-up. Having played at U-levels for the United States, it’s reasonable to assume the 22-year-old would have remained loyal to the U.S. given reason to do so. But with as little roster turnover as we see from the States’, it’s difficult to blame her for pursuing an international career.

In his fifth month on the job, it’s far too soon to say whether Sermanni will protect the sacred cows. While none of the last cycle’s core have been dropped, Sermanni has found time for players like Press, Dunn, Mewis, Ashlyn Harris and Julie Johnston – all encouraging signs. Those inclusions may be a function of injuries and absences or a concerted effort by a new coach, yet when you see Lloyd and Loyden as obligatory callups while a player like Quon is turning to Canada, it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind: Is there too much deference to the old guard? And when will another Becky Sauerbrunn rise from the domestic league?

Right now, it’s far too early to answer those questions. Just file it away.

Latest Posts
  1. Three things we learned from Sporting KC’s 4-0 thrashing of FC Dallas

    May 30, 2015, 12:48 AM EDT

    Krisztian Nemeth, Sporting Kansas City Krisztian Nemeth, Sporting Kansas City

    Three talking points from the latest installment of MLS’s “Viernes de Futbol.”

  2. WATCH: Krisztian Nemeth’s header puts Sporting KC ahead of FC Dallas, 1-0, at the half

    May 29, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT

    Sporting Kansas City v Houston Dynamo Getty Images

    Watch the lone first-half goal of the Sporting KC-FC Dallas match, televised on UniMas tonight.

  3. IRS official says more indictments to come in FIFA case

    May 29, 2015, 9:39 PM EDT

    Sepp Blatter, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, FIFA president

    An important I.R.S official told The New York Times that more indictments in the FIFA corruption investigation will be released.

  4. Orlando City SC announce private funding of new stadium, increased capacity

    May 29, 2015, 7:16 PM EDT

    LA Galaxy at Orlando City LA Galaxy at Orlando City

    Orlando City SC made a big announcement earlier today regarding the future of the club.

  5. Neymar’s former club, Santos, to sue over transfer to Barcelona

    May 29, 2015, 6:34 PM EDT

    AP

    Barcelona has yet to pay the remaining 83 million euros of Neymar’s transfer fee, and his former club, Santos, will sue.

  6. Men in Blazers podcast: Rog talks with U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos ahead of World Cup

    May 29, 2015, 5:41 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    The Men and Blazers speak with U.S. U-20 head man Tab Ramos ahead of the 2015 U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

  7. FA chairman Greg Dyke: Sepp Blatter’s full term will not last, out in two years

    May 29, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    greg_dyke Getty Images

    FA chairman Greg Dyke thinks Sepp Blatter’s fifth term of FIFA presidency won’t last.

  8. 2014 MLS Cup rematch: For the New England Revolution, it’s a new season, different game against LA Galaxy

    May 29, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT

    2014 MLS Cup - New England Revolution v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    On Fox Sports 1 this Sunday, the New England Revolution face LA Galaxy in a 2014 MLS Cup rematch.

  9. 2014-15 Premier League season review: PST’s Best XI of the Season

    May 29, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Chelsea’s title-winning team dominates our picks. But there are still plenty of surprise inclusions.

  10. Leaves jail in ambulance, gives speech hours later: Jack Warner knows no FIFA scandal

    May 29, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    Trinidad and Tobago's National Security Minister Jack Warner talks with journalists after a meeting with residents in Port of Spain

    As the soccer world continues to react to Sepp Blatter’s fifth-term as FIFA president, his 72-year-old former VP is basically telling the law to take a long walk off a short pier.

  11. Blatter’s “Wolf of Wall Street” moment could play out the exact same way

    May 29, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    Nominee for Best Actor in "The Wolf of Wall Street" Leonardo DiCaprio arrives on the red carpet for the 86th Academy Awards on March 2nd, 2014 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    We’re in the shadow of just one rushed afternoon, and the FBI and others are watching the money float off the yacht, hoping to strike.

  12. 2014-15 Premier League season review: PST’s Manager of the Season

    May 29, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Southampton v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    This award went down to the final vote. Do you agree with our pick?

  13. Sepp Blatter wins first vote 133-73, but not by enough to avoid second vote

    May 29, 2015, 1:02 PM EDT

    ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MAY 29:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter talks during the 65th FIFA Congress at the Hallenstadion on May 29, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    There were 209 votes, and nations could abstain from voting as well.

  14. FA Cup final preview: Aston Villa underdogs in Arsenal’s pursuit of back-to-back cups

    May 29, 2015, 12:47 PM EDT

    Can the Gunners win a second-straight FA Cup? Sherwood’s Villa stand in the way.

  15. Report: Benteke has $50 million release clause, Liverpool ready to trigger

    May 29, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT

    It's two in two for Christian Benteke, who scored Villa's second against Liverpool Getty Images

    Aston Villa is hoping to keep the 24-year-old Belgian, who has scored 49 goals in 99 matches since coming to the England from Genk in 2012.

  16. 2014-15 Premier League season review: PST’s Player of the Season

    May 29, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    Eden Hazard, Chelsea FC Getty Images

    One man dominates our votes. He probably dominates your picks too…

  17. Al-Hussein, Blatter address voters ahead of presidential election; First vote coming

    May 29, 2015, 11:06 AM EDT

    FIFA President Sepp Blatter walks past challenger for the FIFA presidency, FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al Hussein (below,L) and UEFA President Michel Platini (below,R) during the opening of the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29, 2015. FIFA president Sepp Blatter heads into a re-election vote amid FIFA's corruption scandal on May 29, 2015. "We need to fix FIFA right now"  Sepp Blatter told members of world football's governing body on May 29. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein and Sepp Blatter have addressed voters ahead of Friday’s presidential election, and we’re onto the vote.

Featured video

PST Extra reviews the 2014-15 season