The 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup is heading to the knockout round. All eight teams have advanced into quarterfinals, and play will resume on Friday with two win-or-go home games. The North Carolina Courage won all four of their preliminary round games to earn the top seed. They'll play the eighth-seeded Portland Thorns to start the quarterfinals. The Houston Dash and Utah Royals will also play Friday, as all four teams will repeat their opening games of the Challenge Cup.
While the power rankings shifted throughout the duration of group play, there's no doubt who is on top as quarterfinals begin.
Take a look below at where teams have landed now that the preliminary round has concluded.
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North Carolina Courage
This is the team everyone expected to come in and dominate. Carolina entered the tournament with little roster turnover and added impact players to the bench. The Courage are the only team entering the quarterfinals without a loss.
Richie Burke and his young team have made a statement in Utah, going up against top-tier teams in Chicago, North Carolina, and Portland Thorns FC. The Spirit will be without team captain and midfielder Andi Sullivan due to a torn meniscus, but still have the tools to compete for a long tournament run.
Utah Royals FC
The tourney hosts were impressive with their attack to start group play. Craig Harrington has shown trust in his team to use a 3-5-2 formation and his roster, led by Amy Rodriguez, has been notable in its commitment. The team is coming off a disappointing loss on a late-game goal against Chicago, but are one of four teams to have a multi-goal game so far.
Chicago Red Stars
After splitting the roster into two groups to compete in group play, the team is moving forward into knockout rounds with no goals from its forwards. However, the defense has come up huge during this tournament, including getting a late game winner by Casey Short against the Utah Royals. The Red Stars' top line will have to show up in quarterfinals against OL Reign.
The Dash started out their tournament with an impressive two games where they scored five goals. But they head into the knockout round having dropped their final two matches and were held scoreless in both. Head coach James Clarkson believes players can get over their mental hurdles and compete in quarters against Utah Royals FC.
New head coach Farid Benstiti has seen his team run into some trouble producing goals as the first two games were utilized as a way to establish their style of play. The team's one group win came from a stoppage-time goal. The return of Jess Fishlock and Sofia Huerta were bright spots in their last match along with Taylor Smith, who came off the bench. Will they be enough to carry OL Reign into knockout rounds against Chicago?
Sky Blue FC
The team put together an impressive half of possession against North Carolina to close out group play, but the team will enter quarterfinals off of a 2-0 loss. Like many teams this tournament, the chances in front of goal haven't quite been there, despite some good movement in the top line from Ifeoma Onumonu. That will have to change in quarterfinals against the Washington Spirit.
Portland Thorns FC
Portland Thorns FC enter the quarterfinals as the only team to not secure a win in group play. The Thorns have also struggled in front of the net. They will have to find a quick solution as they take on tournament giants, the North Carolina Courage.