The U.S. women have advanced into the round of 16 as one of the heavily favored teams to win the World Cup, despite some underwhelming performances in group play. Manager Jill Ellis will be leaning on major contributions from three key players in order for her team to capture their first World Cup title since 1999.
Some questioned whether the 35-year-old had enough left in the tank to continue to start for the U.S. (2-0-1) this World Cup, but the captain has quieted those concerns with her uplifting play through the group stage. Wambach has started for the U.S. in both of the team's victories, adding an assist against Australia and scoring the lone goal to move past Nigeria.
The breakout star for the U.S. in the 2011 World Cup, Morgan started and played 66 minutes against Nigeria after a knee injury limited her to just 23 minutes total as a reserve during the tournament's first two games. She failed to convert on a couple scoring chances against Nigeria, but now that her fitness level is up to par her minutes and effectiveness should continue to rise in the knockout rounds.
Solo has more shutouts than any goalkeeper in U.S. history, and she has shown no signs of slowing down at age 33. If not for her pair of tremendous saves against Australia, the U.S. might not have won its first match. Even when the American attack is sluggish, the USWNT stays in games thanks to Solo's world-class play in goal, which will be fun to watch against the world's top teams at this point in the tournament.