Sarah Gorden earns USWNT call up

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Grant Myatt/The DePaulia

Former DePaul women’s soccer defender Sarah Gorden earned a call up to the USWNT.

Vlatko Andonovski, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) head coach released his 27-player roster ahead of the team’s training camp in Commerce City, Colorado.

Included in that list are a number of Chicago Red Stars players, including former Blue Demon Sarah Gorden. The defender is headed back to the national team after being part of the USWNT Identification camp back in December 2019.

The training camp, which takes place between Oct. 18-28, features only domestic-based players as the dates fall outside FIFA’s international break, meaning club teams abroad are not obligated to release their players. Therefore, players like Tobin Heath, Christian Press, Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis will not take part.

Gorden’s inclusion, however, has nothing to do with the fact that certain players are unavailable to Andonovski. In a conference call with reporters, he made it clear that Gorden earned her selection through her performances the past few seasons. She earned her call-up.

“It wasn’t a surprise by any means,” said Annie Costabile, multimedia and Red Stars reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. “Gorden took her game to another level both mentally and physically in the last two years and the recognition by the USWNT is proof of that.”

Andonovski told reporters that it simply wasn’t her performances in the last five, six, or seven games, but rather what she did last season as well as her performances this season. He also cited her one-on-one defending ability as well as being able to play the ball out from the back and start the attack for the Red Stars.

Gorden started 25 out of 26 games for Chicago in 2019 and was a key defensive piece in helping the team reach the NWSL final for the first time in club history. She played six games in the NWSL Challenge Cup this season where the Red Stars made it to the final. She finished the season playing every minute in both games of the NWSL Fall Series.

During her time at DePaul, the Elk Grove native was anchor at defense for the Blue Demons. She played 17 matches her freshman year and 19 her sophomore year, respectively.

She had her best season during her junior year where she was part of a defense that gave up the fewest goals in the Big East and set a school record 20-game unbeaten streak. Her performance that season helped her be named in the 2014 All-Big East Second Team as well as the Big East All-Tournament Team.

Gorden followed up her junior year with a strong senior year in which she started all 20 matches and was the Big East Defensive Player of the Week on four separate occasions. She finished her final year at DePaul by being named in the 2015 All-Big East First Team. 

In 2016, Gorden became the first player from DePaul Women’s Soccer player to be selected in the NWSL draft where she went 22nd overall to the Red Stars.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the work Sarah has put in over the past five years,” DePaul women’s soccer coach Erin Chastain said. “She had an incredible career at DePaul, winning a conference championship during her career. The league has taken off and is playing a vital role on her team. We can’t wait to continue to watch this former Blue Demon.”

With the absences of some big-name players, others will get an opportunity to make an impression to be part of the process down the road, and that includes Gorden.

“I can’t really speak to Gorden’s chances of sticking around long-term,” Costabile said. “There are so many factors at play, like the players who are overseas at the moment. But what I can say is that Gorden has a mindset unlike many other athletes and she’s more than capable of making this long-term.”

What makes her call-up to the training camp even more impressive is she is the only one on the roster who did not represent the U.S. at the youth level. The pipeline from the youth system to the senior team is strong and that she still made it shows that Gorden really is carving out her own path. 

She joins teammates Alyssa Naeher, Tierna Davidson, Casey Short, Morgan Gautrat and Kealia Watt who will all take part in the training camp. This will be an opportunity for Gorden to see if she can be part of the national team set-up as they prepare for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.