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FourFourTwo's 31 Most Powerful People in U.S. soccer: 31-26

Who influences soccer in the U.S.? We're counting them down:

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We’re counting down the 31 most powerful people in soccer in the United States. (Why 31? We answered that here.) The list includes team owners, agents, players and TV executives, among others.

We kick off our countdown with a diverse representation in places 31 through 26. Who is the most powerful person in soccer in our country? Let’s get right down to it:

31. Becky Sauerbrunn

As one of the captains of the most popular team in the U.S., Sauerbrunn was always going to get some consideration for this list. In recent week, though, the power Sauerbrunn has exhibited off the field confirmed her spot, with the veteran defender emerging as the most important player in her team’s fight for a new labor deal.

Six weeks ago, with the U.S. women’s collective bargaining agreement days from expiring, the USWNTPA suddenly parted ways with its executive director, ostensibly leaving contract negotiations in limbo. In reality, the move was a concerted effort away from the tenuous stance the group had adopted under Rich Nichols, with Sauerbrunn’s influence crucial in both the union’s transition from Nichols and the reorganization that followed.

Last week, the 119-time U.S. international was elected one of her union’s three player representatives, with the organizing role she assumed before the vote helping the players restructure their management. As CBA negotiations resume, both sides have work to do, but Sauerbrunn is likely to be crucial to whatever decisions the USWNTPA makes going forward.

-- RF

NEXT: An owner with reach across leagues