The center back finished with 45.9% of the vote, ahead of the Chicago Red Stars‘ Casey Short, who was second with 27.8%. Reign FC’s Lauren Barnes finished third with 13.5%, while North Carolina Courage’s Abby Erceg and Jaelene Hinkle earned 6.7% and 6.1%, respectively.
Sauerbrunn enjoyed a strong season in the matches she played and was part of a defense that conceded only 25 goals, tied for second least with the Reign and finishing behind the Courage. While she was on the pitch, the Royals picked up seven clean sheets and led the league with a passing accuracy of 87.6%.
The win, however, comes as a bit of a surprise, as Sauerbrunn played the least number of games compared to her fellow nominees. All played more than 20 matches during the course of the 2019 season, while the Royals defender played 14 games, extensive time while helping the United States win a World Cup.
Sauerbrunn was also named to the league’s Best XI and the NWSL Players Association’s Best XI this year. Additionally, she was the first recipient of the league’s Defender of the Year award, and won again in 2014 and 2015 while she played for FC Kansas City.