All eight Reign FC players that headed to France for the Women’s World Cup have advanced to the Round of 16, also known as the start of the heartbreaking and thrilling knockout phase. Here’s how your favorite players fared during the group stage and who they’ll be facing in the Round of 16.
Australia finished second in their group behind Italy, thanks in part to a thrilling come-from-behind win over Brazil that ended 3-2 in Australia’s favor. They haven’t been their best defensively, but have showed the world what’s possible when you have Sam Kerr leading your attack. Australia will face Norway on Saturday, June 22 at 12 PM PT.
Lydia Williams and Steph Catley started all three group stage matches for the Matildas. Williams has had a few surprising gaffes in goal, but continues to make saves that have made her one of the best in the world. Catley has been asked to slide into a centerback role to fill Australia’s defensive gaps. Elise Kellond-Knight, who appears to be recovering from an injury, made one start at left back against Brazil and one appearance as a substitute.
England advanced as the top team in Group D and will face Cameroon at 8:30 AM PT on Sunday, June 23. The team has looked strong and deep across multiple positions, but hasn’t put in a convincing performance for all 90 minutes.
Jodie Taylor started in England’s match against Argentina, and it was her goal that carried the team to a 1-0 victory. Taylor made all the familiar runs she’s made with the Reign (yes, including a few offside ones). She hasn’t featured in any other game for England, as they rotate through a healthy list of attacking players.
Japan finished just behind England in Group D, as the young Nadeshiko squad struggles to find the back of the net. The one area they are stronger this tournament is at goalkeeper, with Ayaka Yamashita making a number of killer saves against England. They’ll have a tough match against Netherlands on June 25 at 12 PM PT.
Rumi Utsugi is the only Reign FC player that has yet to feature for Japan. Brought to France primarily as a strong, reliable veteran presence, Japan hasn’t felt the need to utilize her just yet. In their opener against Argentina, however, it felt like they could have used someone like Utsugi who is good at winning possession and keeping the ball — nothing fancy, just simple passes. That match ended in a 0-0 draw.
Spain demonstrated the highly skilled, lovely-to-watch ball movement they’ve become known for in the last few years. The only problem? They didn’t seem to have any desire to turn all that possession into goal-scoring opportunities. They managed to score just three goals in the group-stage competitions — although all three came against South Africa. Spain finished second in their group and will have to take on the U.S. on June 24 at 9 AM PT.
With Spain captain Marta Torrejon occupying the right back spot, Celia Jimenez Delgado has made one appearances as a substitute for La Roja — a late appearance against China. Torrejon has struggled some this tournament, but not enough for Celia to be her replacement. Could that change in the round of 16?
The United States had a fairly easy path out of Group F, with their biggest challenge coming in their final match against Sweden. They walked away with a 2-0 win and finished at the top of the group — looking dynamic offensively, with the midfield dictating play. The defense hasn’t really been tested ... yet. The knockout round should give them some tougher competition.
The United States will face Spain on Monday, June 24 at 9 AM PT. Megan Rapinoe scored a goal and added three assists for the U.S. in the group stage, getting rested in the second match against Chile. Allie Long made her World Cup debut as a substitute against Chile, earning a yellow card and tempting the ref to give her another.
Good luck to all the Reign FC players in the round of 16!