Utah Royals FC Trio Named to NWSL Best XI and Second XI

SANDY, Utah (Thursday, October 24, 2019) – Utah Royals FC FW Christen Press and DF Becky Sauerbrunn have been named to the National Women’s Soccer League Best XI, while DF Kelley O’Hara has been selected for the Second XI.  

“Congratulations to Becky, Kelley and Christen. They’ve had an amazing year for their careers, and we feel lucky to have them here in Utah and be a part of their journey,” General Manager Stephanie Lee said. 

For the seventh-consecutive time Sauerbrunn has been voted on to the Best XI, she is the only player in league history to be chosen for the award in every season since its inception in 2013. Additionally, she has been selected as the NWSL Defender of the Year three times from 2013-15 and is a finalist for the award this season.

In her second season in Utah, Sauerbrunn made 14 appearances, contributing to six clean sheets and helping the team achieve the second-fewest goals allowed for the season. Additionally, Sauerbrunn recorded the highest passing accuracy in the league, completing 87.6 percent of the passes she attempted. In April she was elected to the NWSL Team of the Month. 

Press earned her fourth selection to the Best XI, tying Jess Fishlock for the second-most in league history behind Sauerbrunn. From 2015-17 Press was given the honor, netting 29 goals in three seasons, but missed out last year after a midseason trade saw her only score two goals in 11 appearances. 

In her first full season with Royals FC, Press scored eight goals to finish second in the club and added two assists in 14 games played. Press was named Player of the Month in August after she netted three goals, including a brace against Sky Blue FC on August 8. The forward also was awarded the Goal of the Week honor three times and was selected to the Team of the Month in both April and August. 

O’Hara’s selection to the Second XI marks the first time in her NWSL career that she has earned an end-of-season award. However, earlier this year she was named to the FIFPro Best XI, a compilation of the top women’s soccer players in the world, for her contribution on the national team. 

This season O’Hara made four appearances for Utah, during which she contributed one assist. Her assist came against Portland Thorns FC when she sent a long ball into the head of DF Rachel Corsie to tie the game in the last minute of the match. 

Additionally, the Utah trio were part of the United State’s Women’s National Team that clinched the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship. 

The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.

2019 NWSL Best XI 

Goalkeeper: Aubrey Bledsoe 

Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper, Ali Krieger, Becky Sauerbrunn, Casey Short 

Midfielders: Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle 

Forwards: Tobin Heath, Sam Kerr, Christen Press 

2019 NWSL Second XI 

Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher 

Defenders: Lauren Barnes, Abby Erceg, Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett 

Midfielders: Bethany Balcer, Crystal Dunn, Yuki Nagasato 

Forwards: Kristen Hamilton, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe