During the FIFA international break, four women’s national teams will head to the West Coast for a three-match Tournament of Nations: Australia, Brazil, Japan, and the United States. Two Seattle Reign FC players — Megan Rapinoe and Rumi Utsugi — have been called up for this tournament.
While the U.S. remains at the top of the FIFA World Rankings, the three teams they’ll face are not far behind. Japan is currently ranked sixth, Australia seventh, and Brazil eighth. After competing against England, Germany, and France earlier this year in the SheBelieves Cup, the U.S. continues to be tested against top global talent.
Rapinoe returns to the U.S. roster after being called in for the team’s May friendlies against Sweden and Norway, which took place in Europe. She appeared as a substitute for approximately one minute in the team’s match against Sweden, but was otherwise rested by Jill Ellis. The Reign FC forward has started all 14 matches for the club—tallying nine goals and one assist.
Utsugi returns to the Japan roster after being called in for the team’s June friendlies against the Netherlands and Belgium. She did not play in either match, as she picked up a calf strain in training. In NWSL play, the midfielder has appeared in 10 matches. Prior to her injury, Utsugi was one of the most important players on the field for Reign FC—shielding the backline from dangerous attacks, breaking up plays, and allowing Jess Fishlock and Christine Nairn the freedom to roam higher up the field.
The Tournament of Nations begins with a doubleheader match on July 27 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Brazil and Utsugi’s Japan will face off first at 4:15 p.m., while Rapinoe and the U.S. will take on Australia at 7 p.m. Tickets for the match are still available.
The next two matches for Rapinoe and Utsugi will take place in California on July 30 and August 3. The U.S. faces Marta and Brazil first, and concludes with a young and dynamic Japan at StubHub Center in Carson.
All six games will broadcast on the ESPN network of channels. The first match between the U.S. and Australia will air on ESPN. ESPN2 will carry the USWNT matches against Brazil on July 30 and Japan on August 3. The three other matches will all be available via ESPN3.
On August 5, just two days after the U.S. and Japan conclude the tournament, Rapinoe and Utsugi will report back to Seattle, where Reign FC face the league-leading North Carolina Courage at 4:30 p.m. PT. The good news for Reign FC fans is that five Courage players will be playing in the Tournament of Nations and could perhaps use a rest after a grueling, fast-paced series of games—or will at least have tired legs against Seattle.
Reign FC still has one more NWSL match before the FIFA break begins, however. The club hosts Sky Blue FC—a team in good form and currently sitting in third place—this Saturday, July 22. The match kicks off at 7 p.m. PT at Memorial Stadium. Three points would be a positive sendoff for Rapinoe and Utsugi.