USA vs Japan - Tournament of Nations Preview

Photo by Brad Smith courtesy of ISI Photos

Photo by Brad Smith courtesy of ISI Photos

By Rachel Gaylor

The United States Women’s National Team will take on the national team of Japan in the final match of the inaugural Tournament of Nations. This will be a meeting of the previous two Women’s World Cup winners. Japan beat the US in 2011 3-1 in penalty kicks after rallying twice to draw 2-2. The US got its revenge in 2015 when it defeated the Japanese 5-2. The last time these two teams played, however, was June 2016. Japan drew the US 3-3 on June 2 and the game on June 5 was called in the 76’ with the US being up 2-0.

The US is coming off an incredible comeback win Sunday over Brazil 4-3. The US was down 3-1 in the 79’ then scored three goals in nine minutes to take all three points. They sit second in the table behind Australia after losing to the Matildas 1-0 on Thursday, July 27. Japan has just one point in the tournament from a 1-1 draw with Brazil and a 4-2 loss to Australia. The US has a chance to win the tournament on goal differential if Australia loses and the US wins by 3+ goals.

Two FC Kansas City players have made appearances during the tournament. Defender Becky Sauerbrunn started both matches, playing all 180 minutes and wearing the captain’s armband in the first match. Forward Sydney Leroux made her first appearance since June 30, 2015 in the semifinal of the WWC against Germany. After the World Cup, she had surgery on her ankle and then missed all of last year due to pregnancy.

Other players to watch out for with the US include Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe, Houston Dash midfielder Carli Lloyd and Sky Blue FC defender Kelley O’Hara. Rapinoe scored the game-tying goal against Brazil in the 85th minute. Lloyd who started the match against Brazil is sitting at 97 international goals and O’Hara, who also started the game against Brazil, earned her 98th cap. Chicago Red Stars forward Christen Press and midfielder Julie Ertz both scored in the nine-minute span.

Japan is led by Asakako Takakura, the team's first female coach, who took over in April of 2016. The goal scorers for Japan have been Yuka Momiki who scored in the 63rd minute against Brazil and in second half stoppage time against Australia, and Mina Tanaka who opened up scoring against the Aussies in the 6th minute. Japan also features Rumi Utsugi, a midfielder for the Seattle Reign. With only one point and a -2-goal differential, Japan does not have a chance to win the tournament.

The match at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. will be at 9 p.m. CT on ESPN2 and can be streamed live at WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app which is available at the app store for IOS and Android.

FC Kansas City single game tickets are available to purchase here

Game Preview, NewsBryn Raschke