Japanese midfielder Rumi Utsugi shines in Seattle Reign FC

Rumi Utsugi during a regular season National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) match between the Chicago Red Stars and Seattle Reign FC at Toyota Park. Photo by ISI.

Japanese midfielder/defender Rumi Utsugi was signed to Seattle Reign FC in June 2016, but the 28-year-old player has been professionally in the game since 2004.

Utsugi’s club career started at NTV Beleza in Japan. She played six seasons before signing with Montpellier HSC of Division 1 Féminine in 2010, becoming the first Japanese player in the French top division. During her six seasons with Montpellier, 19 goals in 101 matches were scored. Impressively, Utsugi led the team to four league cup finals in 2012, 2014, 2015, and in May of 2016 right before she signed with Seattle.

She has represented Japan in the 2007, 2011, and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments, winning the cup in 2011. She played every single minute of the team’s seven World Cup matches in 2015 and was rightfully voted onto the 2015 World Cup All-Star Squad.

Upon signing her to the team, Reign FC general manager and coach Laura Harvey said, “We’ve had our eye on Rumi since the World Cup last year. She had a terrific tournament and showed she can perform in high-pressure situations against some of the world’s most talented players and teams. She’ll add experience and depth to our midfield and backline, something that will be very helpful given the number of injuries we’ve been dealing with this season.”

Utsugi expressed her enthusiasm in a Reign FC press release: “It is a dream to play in a country ranked #1 in the world in women’s soccer. I have decided to challenge myself to play in this country. I want to contribute to Reign FC’s potential to go even farther in the league. I’m looking forward to joining the team.”

In the 2016 season with Seattle, Utsugi started all 7 games and scored 1 goal.

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