Becky Sauerbrunn has won NWSL defender of the year four times, including in 2019.  (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO – Portland Thorns FC has acquired U.S. international defender Becky Sauerbrunn from Utah Royals FC in exchange for defender Elizabeth Ball and $100,000 in allocation money, the National Women’s Soccer League teams announced on Tuesday.

Utah will receive additional allocation money if future conditions are met.

Sauerbrunn, 34, leaves Utah after captaining the side the past two seasons. The veteran defender began her career in the NWSL with FC Kansas City (2013-2017) and has made 122 league appearances (121 starts), logged 10,900 minutes and also has contributed four goals and three assists. Last season, Sauerbrunn was named the NWSL’s defender of the year, which she has won four times, including winning the award in three consecutive seasons (2013-2015). The defender has also been a member of the NWSL Best XI for all of her previous seven seasons in the league.

During her time in the NWSL, Sauerbrunn has also won two NWSL championships in 2014 and 2015 with Kansas City and will aim to help Portland return to the postseason for the fifth straight year.

Sauerbrunn has featured 174 times, has won two Women’s World Cups (2015, 2019) and an Olympic gold medal (2012). She has played for the USWNT in three World Cups (2011, 2015, 2019) and two Summer Olympics (2012, 2016).

Ball, 24, joins Utah after signing with Portland ahead of the 2018 season. During her time with Thorns FC, the defender made 21 appearances (13 starts) and logged 1,190 minutes.

During the first season that allows teams to trade allocation money, Utah became the first team to use the new trade mechanism, sending $60,000 to Chicago Red Stars in exchange for the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NWSL draft. The trade marked the first time that allocation money has been used in exchange for a player.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at