FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski has been a fierce supporter of Becky Sauerbrunn since the first time she stepped on the pitch for the Blues two and a half years ago.
So he has not been surprised at all by the success of the player he frequently refers to as the “best defender in the world,” and her success with the national team in the 2015FIFA World Cup this year. He has even seen her role chance as she becomes one of the veterans in her second World Cup appearance.
She played just one match, the semifinal, in 2011 but has started each of the team’s four games this year. She is one of six players that has played every minute of action so far.
“One thing that I’ve started to realize is that she is taking more of a leadership role now for the national team and looks like the Becky that is on FCKC,” Andonovski said.
With her help, the U.S. shut out Colombia 2-0 on Monday to advance to the quarterfinals where they will face China tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Ottawa. The game will be shown on FOX and FC Kansas City will host a watch party with WIN for KC at Sporting Park.
The game will signify the first meeting between the two teams since the United States topped China in 1999 to win the World Cup.
Becky is one of four FC Kansas City players on the U.S. Women’s National Team. She is joined Lauren Holiday, who they refer to as her maiden name “Cheney,” Heather O’Reilly and Amy Rodriguez. All four of them are making at least their second appearance and it is O’Reilly’s third.
“Every time the game starts the first thing I watch for is who is starting for the simple fact that I want to see Becky, Cheney, HAO and A-Rod on the field,” Andonovski said. “Becky and Cheney have done a great job and I’m just waiting for HAO and A-Rod to step in and take care of business as well.”
O’Reilly and Rodriguez may receive the call tonight in the absence of Holiday and Megan Rapinoe, who each picked up their second yell card of the tournament against Colombia. Rodriguez subbed in against Sweden in the 58th minute, but O’Reilly has yet to see the field despite being one of the most experienced on the team. Only Christie Rampone, Abby Wambach and Shannon Boxx have made more rosters.
Their FC Kansas City teammates will return to action on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. against the Seattle Reign FC at Memorial Stadium in Seattle.