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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Miscik

10 NWSL Players We'd Love To See On Survivor

Survivor 44 crowned a winner on Wednesday, May 24. Since Survivor and the NWSL share a streaming service in the United States, it’s only right to imagine how 10 of the NWSL’s finest players would do on Survivor.


Andi Sullivan

Andi Sullivan in blue USA training gear looking to her left on the field
Andi Sullivan watches play during training with the USWNT at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, Nov. 12, 2022. Photo by Nala Burton for WSX.

By her own admission, Sullivan, a midfielder for the Washington Spirit, has seen at least a few episodes of Survivor. This automatically makes her an actual contender out of this group. In all seriousness, Sullivan’s got an incredibly calm head on her shoulders and can come up big when she needs to (see her 2021 NWSL Championship penalty kick.) These attributes could be incredibly helpful for competitions, especially post-merge.


Sullivan’s calmness would also serve her well should she find her back against the wall in a strategic component. Her strategic game could be quite strong, however, seeing as her position as a playmaker on the field could translate well to strategic thought on the island.


A former captain of the Spirit, Sullivan led her team through the firings of not one but two coaches and advocated for better conditions for NWSL players. Those powerful leadership skills, assuming she can mitigate her threat level, could set her up as the head of a dominant alliance. All in all, Sullivan’s skills and experiences make her a compelling player to watch in any season and a possible contender.


Marta

Come on. Don’t you want to see Brazilian national treasure Marta play Survivor? Beloved by her fans, hated by her enemies, there’s no doubt that Marta would make great reality television.

Marta in her purple Orland Health kit being lifted by her teammates after a win
Marta and her teammates celebrate her first goal scored since her ACL injury. Photo courtesy of the Orlando Pride

That being said, Marta is a true leader for both club and country. It’s clear that she gives 110% in whatever she does, whether that’s scoring goals or playing musical instruments. Others would naturally follow suit. This could work to her advantage in the pre-merge by helping her tribe to win challenges. If her tribemates stayed loyal to her (which by all accounts seems likely), Marta could find herself in a power position come the merge.

Marta’s passion is the thing that could single-handedly end her game or win it. While it may motivate her, it also may distract her and send her down a path of unnecessary vengeance.


Just ask Rachel Daly what it feels like to be on the receiving end of Marta’s wrath. Once Marta gets something in her head, she’s going to do it, no matter the cost. On the flip side, Marta’s passion means she’s an incredibly expressive and persuasive speaker. Look no further than her classic speech after Brazil got eliminated from the 2019 World Cup for a perfect example. Should she have a seat in Final Tribal Council, Marta has a very good chance of using her passion to persuade the jury to award her the million dollars.


Midge Purce

If there’s one thing to know about Midge Purce, it’s that she went to Harvard. Obviously, this could put a target on her back, but judging by the plethora of Ivy League graduates on more recent seasons of Survivor, she would likely fit right in. Purce is known for her witty remarks, but this video proves she can use her cleverness to her advantage. Her strong balance of intelligence and social skills makes her an ideal Survivor player.


Midge Purce in white Gotham FC kit taking a strike at the white and purple ball
Midge Purce takes a penalty against Orlando Pride on April 15, 2023. Photo courtesy of Gotham FC

Purce is an asset in group dynamics. Her college coach Chris Hamblin observed that “if you're having a bad day, it's tough to not enjoy being around her because of the energy she brought every single day." So many great Survivor players are known for this quality. Being the person to lift the group’s spirits is an integral role in any tribe, especially after a loss. People appreciate positive thinking and energy. Should Purce ever find herself with her back against the wall, she could easily make a case that she is valuable to the tribe for that very reason. Her leadership abilities are also a point in her favor.


In 2020, Purce not only was elected to the Harvard Board of Overseers, but also co-founded the Black Women’s Player Collective. It’s clear that both on and off the pitch Purce is held in high esteem. Given Purce’s obvious intelligence and leadership qualities, she would be an odds-on favorite to win any season.


Sydney Leroux

Judging by her Twitter presence, Sydney Leroux would be a modern-day Courtney Yates (Survivor: China and Heroes vs. Villains.) I can just picture her in a confessional making fun of someone’s machismo or poor strategic play.


In soccer, Leroux is known for her swagger on and off the field. Who could forget that infamous celebration after she scored against Canada? If she were to win individual immunity, especially if her back was against the wall, we could get a memorable celebration moment à la “this is my island!” from One World.

In all seriousness, Leroux is also highly respected by her teammates and fans alike. Her quick wit makes her a fun person to be around and her competitive drive should gain her respect in the pre-merge part of Survivor. Should she make it to the merge, I could see her making an underdog run with plenty of competition wins and quips along the way. Maybe she could be the Kelley Wentworth to someone else’s Jeremy Collins. Either way, Leroux would be fantastic television and could be a stealth winner pick.



Meghan Klingenberg

Meghan Klingenberg could be the insiders’ winner pick in any season. Like many others on this list, Kling is a great leader. She isn’t the captain of the Thorns, but arguably has a more important role: the pep talker. If you haven’t seen a Meghan Klingenberg pep talk, please do so.



After listening to one, it’s impossible not to feel like running through a brick wall. This facet of Kling’s personality tells us two valuable things: one, she is a fantastic team leader, and two, her words and conviction are powerful. Kling’s ability to make anybody hype could be useful both before tribe challenges and as a weapon later in the game to install false confidence in her opponents. Secondly, it’s clear that she is a persuasive speaker and means what she says. In a Final Tribal Council, these attributes are key for convincing the jury to award you the million dollars.


Kling’s directness is an asset on the field, but it could hurt her on the island. If she reveals her intentions too quickly, her honesty may backfire. That being said, honesty is a prized quality in Survivor. Even if her competitors simply perceive her as honest, Kling may be able to trade on it and get away with some sneaky moves.


Two Sole Survivors have been from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. Could Kling make it three? Maybe. If she can use her loyalty and honesty as smokescreens for her own devious plans, I don’t see why not.


Crystal Dunn

It’s no secret that Crystal Dunn is the life of the party. Socially this puts her in a great spot from the get-go. As with Midge Purce, everyone loves positive, fun people, especially in the harsh conditions of Survivor.


For this reason, Dunn would also skate under the radar with regard to her threat level. Her tribemates could write her off as just the cheerleader rather than a serious player. This underestimation is boosted by Dunn’s small stature; many would likely believe she is not a challenge threat simply because she is short. The other players may even forget she is an athlete because of it. This would obviously benefit Dunn immensely should she ever end up on the island.


Crystal Dunn in USWNT training gear with the Volkswagen logo as she bends to the left
Crystal Dunn anticipates a pass during USWNT open training at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, Nov. 12, 2022. Photo by Nala Burton for WSX.

Strategically, Dunn could be underestimated as well. She is the Vice President and Secretary of the USWNT Players Association. In these roles, it’s obvious that Dunn has experience negotiating (and succeeding.) Furthermore, Dunn definitely has experience planning and being patient enough to see those plans come to fruition through her work with the PA. If she can bring that acumen to the game, Dunn may be able to work her way through difficult strategic situations.


Threat management would be the most difficult part of the game for her because it is difficult for her to hide her strengths. Just ask anyone who advocates for Dunn to get a shot in the USWNT midfield. Her triple threat status could be enough to win, should she manage her threat level appropriately.


Becky Sauerbrunn

On paper, Becky Sauerbrunn may not seem like a great Survivor player. She’s an introvert, relatively private, and has a look that could cut you like a knife. In practice, however, Sauerbrunn could be a real force.

Becky Sauerbrunn in blue USA kit with her blonde hair in a bun and a pink headband as she controls the yellow ball
Becky Sauerbrunn controls the ball during a game against Germany at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, Nov. 13, 2022. Photo by Nala Burton for WSX.

Judging by how she plays Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Sauerbrunn is extremely competitive and willing to get physical if need be. There’s no doubt she would be a boost to any tribe in the pre-merge and a physical threat in the post-merge.


It’s apparent that Sauerbrunn is one of the most respected players for both club and country by fans and players alike. She has a strong sense of empathy and courage to do what’s right, as evidenced by her recent op-ed in support of trans athletes and her long struggle for equal pay as the president of the USWNT Players Association. In this role, Sauerbrunn honed her negotiation and diplomacy skills.


All of these social attributes are major points in her favor. Even if Sauerbrunn engages in clever strategy, I have a feeling her competitors would not hold it against her. Should she get to the end with the right people sitting next to her, I think she could be the first female unanimous winner of American Survivor.


Amber Brooks

The double bird queen would be an absolute riot on Survivor. I’m not here to tell you that Brooks is a guaranteed winner, nor that she’s a guaranteed first boot.

Amber Brooks from the back in blue jersey that reads Brooks with 22 in pride lettering as she flips off the camera with both hands. The scoreline in the top left corner reads Was 3 SD 2
Amber Brooks flipping off the camera in a match against the San Diego Wave

One thing I do know: her competitive energy and firecracker spirit (pun intended) would be an asset to any tribe pre-merge and would make great television once the game becomes an individual one. She certainly knows how to make compelling television images. Brooks is willing to do whatever it takes to win. She’s certainly not afraid to get her hands dirty.


Case in point, she was sent off in her first game with the Washington Spirit for two tough challenges. In pre-merge challenges, her physicality could be the difference maker. Nobody comes between Brooks and a W. Just like Marta, however, her competitive spirit could get her in trouble (read: the retroactive two-game suspension for those infamous double birds.)



That being said, Brooks’ clear passion and loyalty could make her a desirable ally. Everyone wants numbers; I don’t think you’d find a more loyal number than Amber Brooks. She could easily use this to her advantage to float between groups and make her way to the end. After all, two wasn’t just the number of birds Brooks flashed during that game. It was also the number of goals she scored in the Spirit’s improbable win against San Diego. Overall, Brooks may do well, she may not; regardless, you know she’ll be fun to watch.


Alyssa Naeher

Every season of Survivor needs one person who doesn’t want to be there. Alyssa Naeher would fit that role perfectly. In real life, Naeher is an incredibly private person. She’s also an introvert. Teammates and fans alike love her slightly disgruntled, laconic charm.

Alyssa Naeher in blue Chicago kit with yellow gloves taking a strike at the white and purple ball
Alyssa Naeher takes a free kick. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Red Stars

Naeher would play similarly to Rocksroy from Survivor 42. Rocksroy was on Survivor to build stuff and have an amazing island experience, not play the game. Given Naeher’s reputation for being handy, it wouldn’t surprise me if she ended up enjoying fixing the shelter more than scheming with others.


That being said, Naeher’s astounding ability to stay calm under pressure could help her stay afloat should she choose to play the game. In any case, the “unbothered handyman” type has almost always been a man. I would love to see Naeher take up the mantle and give us incredible television in the process.


AD Franch



“New Era” Survivor loves to cast people with inspirational life stories. Franch would fit this bill. Raised by a single mother, AD’s family was chosen to purchase a Habitat for Humanity home. She was able to overcome her socioeconomic status and eventually win a World Cup in 2019, now volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to give others the same opportunity she received.


Regardless of her background, Franch would make a wonderful player to watch. She is deeply motivated by her family, and combined with her competitive nature as an athlete, AD could be a force to be reckoned with.

AD Franch in pink jersey making a diving save
AD French makes a diving save for the KC Current against the Houston Dash, Oct. 16, 2022. Photo by Elyanna Garcia for WSX.


As a goalkeeper Franch has to stay focused for long periods of time and organize defenders. These are two key aspects to the strategic game. Keeping focused on the long-term goal and being able to organize people for short-term results are essentially the key to winning Survivor.


Socially, Franch seems to be well-liked by both her teammates and fans alike. While she has a certain intensity, her charisma and fun-loving energy mask her true competitive nature. This aspect of Franch’s personality is integral to potential threat management should she make it past the merge. She may also have a competitive advantage post-merge since her balance and reflexes as a goalkeeper have to be perfect. In short, Franch would be a compelling player to watch and a worthy competitor.

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