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The U.S. women’s soccer star who has gone largely unnoticed

The U.S. women\'s soccer star who has gone largely unnoticed Imagine being the best in the world at your job.

Now imagine nobody recognizing you as being the best in the world at your job.

That’s more or less the predicament Becky Sauerbrunn, the rock of the United States women’s national team’s defense, finds herself in. Except she doesn’t seem to really care all that much. Not that she is the world’s most underrated player. Or that she wasn’t among the seven best defenders in FIFA’s All-Star Team after shepherding the back line through the Women’s World Cup last year, playing a major — major — role in the Americans ending their 16-year title world title drought. Head coach Jill Ellis calls her “essential” and says “she’s one of the most important pieces for us.”

But the 31-year-old central defender from St. Louis wasn’t among the four defenders in the fans’ Dream Team, either. Or on FIFA’s Player of the Year long list for 2015. Or in the FIFPro World XI.

When she’s confronted with this litany of grievous oversights of her accomplishments, she chuckles. And then she shrugs. “Well …” she begins.

“I mean …”

“I can’t …”

She shrugs again.

“That stuff is out of my control,” Sauerbrunn finally says. “And if I constantly thought of myself based on what other people thought of me, I would not be a happy person. It’s nice when people are kind of mystified on my behalf, but at the end of the day …”

Co-captain Carli Lloyd needs no convincing. “I’m a huge Becky fan,” she says. “I think that she has gotten so much better over the years and continues to improve. She’s one of the best defenders in the world, no question.”

Improving is what Sauerbrunn draws her gratification from. “I know I have levels to get to,” she says. “I don’t think I’m where I’m going to end up with my career. I think I have places I can reach as far as being a player. And so that’s kind of my motivation.” […]

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