Semifinal-seeking Eagles names for fixture versus Red Roses

A win Thursday, which would be just the second victory for the Eagles over England in 17 contests, would advance the United States to the Women's World Cup Semifinals as the top team out of Pool B. A loss, however, would mean the Eagles would have to outdo the second-place team from Pool A and C on standings points to advance to the Semifinals.

DUBLIN, Ireland - The Eagles have named their 23-player roster to face defending World Champions England Thursday, Aug. 17 at 9:30 a.m. ET in the United States' third and final pool match of the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup.

Following the Eagles 43-0 shutout of Spain, which improved their World Cup record to 2-0, Head Coach Pete Steinberg has made no changes to a backline that have been turning heads with its sheer pace and athleticism. Still, while the Eagles Sevens-influenced backs have been received heaps of praise, the stellar play of the forwards has delivered the platform for players like Cheta Emba, Alev Kelter and Naya Tapper to exploit space in the open field.

"Out attack is designed to provide lots of options for our attack," explained Steinberg. "Our forwards have been very effective ball carriers in the middle of the pitch, and that is what we need to create the space for the speed we have out wide."

Hooker Katy Augustyn, who started in the World Cup-opening win against Italy, returns to the starting lineup. The Berkeley All Blues stalwart will scrum down in the front row alongside Catie Benson and Tiffany Faaee, who will once again captain the Eagles.

After showing well as a starter against the Italians, lock Alycia Washington reclaims the No. 5 jumper following a spell on the bench during the game versus Spain. Meanwhile, the back row of Jordan Gray, Sara Parson and Kate Zackary will remain intact for a third consecutive match; an indication of just how impressive the unit has been during the World Cup.

Two squad members will lace up their boots on game day for the first time during the 2017 Women's World Cup. Jess Wooden, a veteran from the 2014 World Cup, will provide coverage for the backs from the bench along with Sylvia Braaten and Kayla Canett. Prop Nick James has also been awarded a place in the 23-player lineup, and has an opportunity earn her first international cap against the No. 1-ranked team in the world.

The Eagles have been fortunate to stay reasonably injury-free so far on tour, still, twelve players will make their third start in just nine days in hopes of continuing to build cohesion amongst a roster that lacked game time together heading into the Women's World Cup.

"The schedule is really tough and something that World Rugby needs to look at. We are relatively healthy and we have managed the players' volumes pretty well," Steinberg said. "However, we came in knowing that our team had not played enough together, so we have had only a few changes in each game. This means that we are still improving as we learn to work together."

Like the United States, England is 2-0 but sit atop the Pool B standings with a point differential of plus-94 after 56-5 handling of Spain on Aug. 9, which was followed by a 56-13 defeat of Italy.

Just three years removed from a 21-9 victory over Canada in the Final of the 2014 Women's World Cup, the Red Roses are a veteran-laden squad that is riding an 11-match winning streak. The No. 1-ranked team in World Rugby is strong all over the park, but especially dominant in a few areas of the game.

"England has the best lineout maul in the game," Steinberg noted. "We need to stop their maul and disrupt in the air and on the ground. Their kicking game is also very effective, and while our back three is very dynamic, they have not played a lot of rugby together. So, making sure our positioning is right is important."

Now ranked No. 6 in World Rugby's rankings thanks to a pair of bonus-point wins to open their World Cup campaign, the Eagles last played England in the 2016 Women's Rugby Super Series, falling 39-13. The United States are sure to be underdogs heading into its final pool fixture, but the team's steady improvement since arriving in Ireland has the team gaining confidence with every training session.

"The team knows that this is a test. We are still a developing team, but we believe we can compete with England," assessed Steinberg. "We are excited to use this game as a gauge to how good we can be. To win the World Cup we will probably need to play England twice, so this will be the first test."

A win Thursday, which would be just the second victory for the Eagles over England in 17 contests, would advance the United States to the Women's World Cup Semifinals as the top team out of Pool B. A loss, however, would mean the Eagles would have to outdo the second-place team from Pool A and C on standings points to advance to the Semifinals. A tie in standings points among the top second-place teams in the three pools would then look towards point differential to decide which nation will be the fourth team represented in the 2017 Women's World Cup Semifinals.

NBC Sports Gold's Rugby Pass will provide live coverage of Thursdays match between the Eagles and the Red Roses starting at 9:30 a.m. ET for viewers in the United States, while fans outside of America can watch the action on the official website of the Women's World Cup.

USA Women's Eagles | v. England
1. Catie Benson
2. Katy Augustyn
3. Tiffany Faaee (C)
4. Stacey Bridges
5. Alycia Washington
6. Sara Parsons
7. Kate Zackary
8. Jordan Gray
9. Deven Owsiany
10. Kimber Rozier
11. Kristen Thomas
12. Alev Kelter
13. Nicole Heavirland
14. Naya Tapper
15. Cheta Emba

USA Women's Eagles | Reserves
16. Samantha Pankey
17. Hope Rogers
18. Nick James
19. Abby Gustaitis
20. Kristine Sommer
21. Kayla Canett-Oca
22. Sylvia Braaten
23. Jess Wooden

USA Women's Eagles | Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 Coaching Staff
Pete Steinberg - Head Coach
Peter Baggetta - Associate Head Coach
Richie Walker - Assistant Coach
Liz Kirk - Assistant Coach
Richard Ashfield - Assistant Coach
Ian Gibbons - Head of Physical Performance
Katie Gloyer - Physician
Michelle Look - Physician
Amy Valenta - Physiotherapist
Sarah Leslie - Physiotherapist
Bri Arsenault - Physiotherapist
Caitlin Singletary - Video Analyst
Julie Sutcliffe - Sports Psychologist
Amie Kern - Assistant Manager & Massage Therapist
Jeremy Castro - Media Manager
Roshna Wunderlich - Manager

USA Women's Eagles | Women's Rugby World Cup 2017
v. England - Thursday, Aug. 17 @ 9:30 a.m. ET
Semifinals - Tuesday, Aug. 22
Finals - Saturday, Aug. 26