Becky Sauerbrunn made an important decision regarding her future by freezing her embryos. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
A pair of dependable backline veterans on U.S. women’s national team aren’t attending January camp for good reason.
Left back and Rockville Centre, N.Y. native Crystal Dunn is pregnant with her first child, which is due in May.
Center back Becky Sauerbrunn recently had her embryos frozen for a possible future pregnancy.
The team captain was ready to enter camp, but “had a little a little setback that did not allow her to properly get ready and prepare physically for this camp,” U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski said during a Wednesday afternoon Zoom call.
“In conversation with her and with the medical staff first and foremost, we didn’t think that in this camp she will be she’ll be ready to perform,” Andonovski continued. “But with that being said, I want to say that if she if she gets back fit, healthy fit, and she’s able to play minutes in she believes she will be considered for that camp.”
On Jan. 6, Sauerbrunn revealed her decision to freeze embryos on Alex Azzi’s On Her Turf podcast
“Broaching the subject with the national team, that was kind of terrifying,” Sauerbrunn said on the podcast. “I was basically cramming this month-long process in between two national team camps.”
Sauerbrunn was told that she needed to stop working out, as part of the process of having her eggs extracted.
“It was the first time I ever had forced inactivity,” she said on the podcast. “They were like, ‘You can’t raise your heart rate above 160.’ ”
Here is a link to the On Her Turf podcast:
Becky Sauerbrunn opens up about freezing embryos, ending stigma
The 36-year-old Sauerbrunn wants to have the option to start a family someday.
“I didn’t want that added pressure when trying to decide the future of my career,” she said on the podcast. “As someone who is an older athlete… I often have to think, ‘Will I want to start a family?’ ”
Dunn’s availability is still up in the air. The USWNT will try to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics this summer.
Andonovski said that he hasn’t talked to Dunn yet on what plans she had after she gives birth.
“The only focus for her, her family and us is that she delivers a healthy baby, and we want it to be we want her to be happy with it,” he said. “I’m pretty sure our medical department, together with the high performance [team officials] will create a good return to play protocol for her. Once she implements that, I have no doubt that she will be back even stronger.”
Dunn and Sauerbrunn weren’t the only veteran players not in camp in Austin, Texas. Forwards Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Christen Press are not there as well.
Andonovski said that he had spoken to those players in November, laying out a short-term plan in which he wanted to see younger and less internationally experienced players in the last two camps.
“We wanted to see these young players and we wanted to give them opportunity,” he said. “With more of the senior players being around, the younger players would not have as much opportunity as they got or they’re going to get
“Now we will evaluate all these players in this camp, and we’ll start making decisions for the future camps as well.”
The USWNT head coach stressed that the quartet were “not out of the picture by any means.”
“A lot of things depend now is not just on the players that are not here,” Andonovski added. “A lot depends on the players that are coming in camp and how well they do or how well they do now or how well we believe will do in the near future or 18 months from now.”
Eighteen months from now is the World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.
Midfielder-forward Catarina Macario was supposed to be on the roster but was taken off on Wednesday morning after her club, Lyon, was drawn against Paris St-Germain in the Round of 16 in the French Cup. Andonovski it would have been counterproductive to have Macario to fly to the states for a few days of practice, miss a match against Montpellier and return to France for the cup game.
“So, overall two exceptional games for Cat, good experience high stress, intense games,” he said. “It’ll be overall better for her.”
Andonovski said a replacement for Macario would be announced Wednesday or Thursday.