Becky Sauerbrunn still is at the top of her game at 34. (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

For the fourth time in her career, Utah Royals FC defender Becky Sauerbrunn has been named the National Women’s Soccer League defender of the year, the league announced Wednesday.

The 34-year-old U.S. international also won the award from 2013-2015 with FC Kansas City. The defender of the year was voted on by the club officials, players, media and fans.

Voted to the NWSL’s Best XI last week, Sauerbrunn appeared in 14 games this season. She anchored a Royals FC backline that conceded 25 goals and ranked tied for first in the league with 10 clean sheets.

The veteran center back made 76 clearances and finished with seven blocks. The Utah captain also made 21 interceptions, had a 71.2 percent duels success rate and a 64.7 percent successful tackle rate. She ranked first in the league with a passing accuracy of 87.6 percent and earned Goal of the Week honors for her game-winning goal off a header in Utah’s 1-0 win over Portland Thorns FC on September 6.

Sauerbrunn, who helped anchor the United States’ second consecutive Women’s World Cup title this summer, is ranked ninth all-time in the NWSL in minutes played (10,855) and is tied for 14th all-time in career games played (122).

Chicago Red Stars’ Casey Short, Reign FC’s Lauren Barnes and North Carolina Courage ‘s Abby Erceg and Jaelene Hinkle finished in second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

The list of finalists was decided after a preliminary round of voting by owners, general managers, coaches, players and media. The finalists were then voted on by fans, owners, general managers, coaches, players and media.

DEFENDER TOTAL OF FIRST PLACE VOTES
Sauerbrunn 45.9%
Short 27.8%
Barnes 13.5%
Erceg 6.7%
Hinkle 6.1%

Voting Breakdown:
Preliminary Round: Owners/GMs/Coaches (25%), Media (25%) and Players (50%)
Final Round: Fans (20%), Owners/GMs/Coaches (20%), Media (20%) and Players (40%)

Full List of NWSL Defenders of the Year
2013: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
2014: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
2015: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
2016: Lauren Barnes, Seattle Reign FC
2017: Abby Dahlkemper, North Carolina Courage
2018: Abby Erceg, North Carolina Courage
2019: Becky Sauerbrunn, Utah Royals FC