In January, Becky Sauerbrunn was named a co-captain of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

Six months later, Sauerbrunn knows the job is about more than being a cheerleader on the field. She's trailblazing off the pitch.

In late March, Sauerbrunn, co-captain Carli Lloyd, forward Alex Morgan, goalkeeper Hope Solo and midfielder Megan Rapinoe filed a federal complaint charging U.S. Soccer for wage discrimination. Appearing on Today, four of the players, including Sauerbrunn, explained it is the team's responsibility to push for equal pay with the men's squad.

Becky Sauerbrunn

Now, as Sauerbrunn and the USWNT head to Rio, the fight is going global.

"We like to be kind of at the forefront for how all football federations should treat their female athletes," Sauerbrunn says. "You've seen Australia's had battles with their federation, we've seen Columbia, and so we would like to be out there and have U.S. Soccer be at the forefront of treating woman the same as their male counterparts.

"We're very proud to take on that mantle and going into Rio, we're very willing to talk to the other federations and talk with the other players, just letting them know this is how we're fighting it, this is what we're doing, and try to make it a global fight for the women's game."

Related: Female Players File Wage Discrimination Complaint Against U.S. Soccer

As of March, the USWNT paid its players a $1,350 bonus for international wins, while the U.S. men's team earned $17,625. In February, U.S. Soccer reported a $20 million increase in national team revenue in 2015 to spread around the federation. This came in a year the USWNT won a third World Cup -- its first since 1999 -- and the USMNT lost to Jamaica in the Gold Cup semifinals on U.S. soil. The USWNT spent the rest of 2015 on a highly-attended victory tour after their ticker tape parade in New York City.

Becky Sauerbrunn

"You think about the legacy that you leave behind, and I've been very fortunate to be part of a very successful team, but I think the fight for equal pay and respect is something that goes beyond the field," Sauerbrunn says. "I think it is very important, something that I'm very willing to take on to help the generations that come behind me.

"I know I looked up to the ‘99ers, and they started this whole process, so we're taking that fight and advancing it. I feel like whatever we do here will benefit the ones who come after."

The USWNT is ranked No. 1 in the world, while the USMNT is at No. 31. The women's side has a clear argument in the United States. For other federations, the fight has greater barriers, but Sauerbrunn and her teammates are lending an outstretched hand.

"Yes they have," Sauerbrunn says when asked if other federations have reached out to USWNT members. "We've been very open with how our players' association deals with U.S. Soccer, so it's been a very open process. We know this goes beyond just U.S. soccer. It goes beyond women in sports. It's something that happens in any workplace, and we're willing to take that on."

The USWNT has not played a match away from North America since March 11, 2015 in the Algarve Cup in Portugal. The squad last played in South America, in Brazil, on Dec. 21, 2014. After a July 9 tune-up versus South Africa and July 22 versus Costa Rica, both in the U.S., the team opens group play in Brazil Aug. 3 against New Zealand.

Becky Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo, Kelley O'Hara

Winning helps everything. But Sauerbrunn and the team aren't putting all their eggs in the gold medal basket.

"I think it helps to be successful, but that's not the foundation of our argument," Sauerbrunn, speaking on behalf of Budweiser, says. "It's really about what we feel we are valued. We put in the same amount of time, effort, and we do the same amount of work requirements. We feel like that should be equal, and we should get the same amount of money as the men."

Related: U.S. Women's Team Is Big Hit On 'FIFA 16'

The USMNT is coming off an impressive run to the Copa America semifinals, where the squad was dropped by Argentina. Meanwhile, the women's team has a difficult time exceeded expectations. With nothing short of gold expected in Rio, there is limited room for error.

But it will not only be performance on the pitch that matters in Rio. The USWNT will mingle with other federations, and if the team reaches the semifinals, they will stroll through the Olympic village. Sauerbrunn and her teammates have the chance to win a lot more than a necklace in Rio.

More USWNT:
-- Christen Press Talks Olympics, Equal Pay And Deep-Dish Pizza
-- U.S. Men's And Women's Soccer Teams Are Fighting, And Everyone's Going To Lose
-- Kelley O'Hara Gears Up For Olympics

-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.

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