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U.S. to Host Japan on Saturday in San Jose in Fourth Send-Off Series Match

U.S. Women’s National Team Notes
USA vs. Japan
San Jose, Calif.
July 27, 2007

USA SET TO FACE JAPAN ON USSOCCER.COM’S MATCHACCESS AS SEND-OFF SERIES TURNS CORNER TO 2007 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: The U.S. Women’s National Team continues its “2007 Send-Off Series” on Saturday, July 28, against Japan at the intimate Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif. The match can be seen live on’s MatchACCESS with a 7 p.m. PT kickoff. This will be the fourth of six Send-Off Series matches that will take the USA through its final preparations before the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, being held Sept. 10-30 in China. The USA has won each of its six of its domestic games so far in 2007 and has put together 10-game winning streak since tying its first two matches at the Four Nations Tournament last January in China.

2007 Women’s National Team Send-Off Series
Date          Opponent          Venue (City)                                                                Kickoff TV
June 16    China                 Cleveland Browns Stadium (Cleveland, Ohio)    2-0 W
June 23    Brazil                  Giants Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)                 2-0 W
July 14      Norway               Rentschler Field (East Hartford, Conn.)               1-0 W
July 28     Japan                  Spartan Stadium (San Jose, Calif.)                       7:00 p.m. PT / MatchACCESS
Aug. 12    New Zealand     Soldier Field (Chicago, Ill.)                                      12:00 p.m. CT / ESPN2
Aug. 25    Finland                The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)             6:30 p.m. PT / ESPN2

BLACKJACK! RYAN SELECTS 21: Two and half years of evaluation are over as U.S. head coach Greg Ryan has selected the 21 players for the 2007 U.S. Women’s World Cup Team. The USA will now narrow its focus to the remaining warm-up matches and the first round of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Ryan named 18 players on July 11, and the final three on July 23, rounding out a team that will represent the USA on the world’s grandest stage for women’s soccer. While the team is led by five-time Women’s World Cup participant and team captain Kristine Lilly, four-time WWC participant Briana Scurry, as well as defenders Kate Markgraf and Christie Rampone, who will each be playing in their third Women’s World Cups, twelve of the 21 players on the U.S. roster will be experiencing the tournament for the first time, the most rookies ever on a U.S. WWC roster.

BRONCOS COME HOME: Three players on the USA’s Women’s World Cup roster will be enjoying a homecoming of sorts for the game against Japan, one of them literally, as former Santa Clara Broncos Aly Wagner, Leslie Osborne and Marian Dalmy are a part of the U.S. team for the match at Spartan Stadium, which is just a few miles from the Sana Clara campus. Osborne and Wagner were key players for SCU during the 2001 season (Osborne was a freshman, Wagner a junior) when they won the school’s lone NCAA women’s soccer championship. Wagner, a San Jose native, won the 2002 MAC Hermann Trophy as a senior and was the first pick in the 2003 WUSA Draft. She has played 112 times for the USA, scoring 21 goals. Dalmy was a senior at Santa Clara last season when she was named the WCC Player of the Year. You can sit down with the three former Santa Clara Broncos and find out their thoughts on coming back to familiar surroundings with the U.S. National Team by logging on to’s all_access video. Other players with local ties on the Women’s World Cup roster include former Stanford goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, and outside back Stephanie Lopez, the youngest player on the WWC team at 21, who grew up in Sacramento.

SPARTAN STADIUM WELCOMING TO U.S. WOMEN’S TEAM AND PLAYERS: Not only is the U.S. Women’s National Team undefeated in five matches at Spartan Stadium, it has never allowed a goal while scoring 24. The most recent match at Spartan Stadium was a 5-0 win over Mexico on Sept. 7, 2003. The venue also holds special meaning to three U.S. players, who all scored first goals of sorts on the Spartan Stadium field. Abby Wambach scored the first of her 74 career international goals at Spartan on April 27, 2002, in a 3-0 victory over Finland. While playing in the WUSA with the Boston Breakers, midfielder Angela Hucles scored at Spartan in her first game at forward in the pro league. Young defender Marian Dalmy also scored her first-ever collegiate goal at Spartan Stadium while playing against San Jose State with the Santa Clara Broncos. While the Sparta Stadium field is one of the smallest the USA will play on, measuring about 68 yards wide and 110 yards long, the tight dimensions hasn’t seem to bother the U.S. team, as the closest match on the field was that 3-0 win over Finland.

ABBY IS READY: As she prepares for her second Women’s World Cup tournament, high scoring forward Abby Wambach sat down with’s Center Circle for an update on the team’s preparation less than two months before the team travels to China. While there is still some fine tuning to do, it is clear that Wambach is ready to go.

TEAM PHOTO DAY: The U.S. team arrived in San Jose, California on Monday, July 23, and the first order of business before training on Tuesday…the Official Women’s World Cup Team Photo. Get a look at the photo day as well as the USA’s first training in the Bay Area, held at Stanford University, on’s all_access video.  

GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), 1-Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), 18-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.)
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Marian Dalmy (Lakewood, Colo.), 8-Tina Ellertson (Vancouver, Wash.), 14-Stephanie Lopez (Elk Grove, Calif.), 15-Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), 3-Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.), 4-Cat Whitehill (Birmingham, Ala.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 17-Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), 16-Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), 19-Marci Jobson (St. Charles, Ill.), 11-Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), 12-Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis.), 10-Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.)
FORWARDS (5): 6-Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), 13-Kristine Lilly (Wilton, Conn.), 9-Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), 20-Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Miho Fukumoto, 12-Nozomi Yamago;
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Azusa Iwashimizu, 3-Hiromi Isozaki, 6-Kozue Ando, 13-KyokoYano, 22-Rumo Utsugi, 23-Nayuha Toyoda;
MIDFIELDERS (9): 4-Tomoe Sakai, 5-Tomomi Miyamoto, 7-Miyuki Yanagita, 8-Aya Miyama, 10-Homare Sawa, 14-Ykari Kinga, 15-Ayumi Hara, 16-Kanako Ito, 20-Mizuho Sakaguchi;
FORWARDS (4): 9-Eriko Arakawa, 11-Shinobu Ohno, 18-Yuki Nagasato, 19-Mami Yamaguchi.

USA vs. Japan History
Japan has never beaten the USA as the Americans hold a 16-0-3 all-time record against the long-time Asian power. The U.S. last faced Japan in a two-game series in Japan in May 2006, with the U.S. winning 3-1 on May 7 behind an Abby Wambach hat trick and 1-0 on May 9 on a Natasha Kai header. Azusa Iwashimizu scored Japan’s lone goal in the two matches. But the last three matches before the two-game set in Japan featured the three draws between the teams (two 1-1 games and one scoreless tussle). Of the 19 matches in the series, only five have been played in Japan, those coming on the USA’s three-game tour in 1998 and then last summer. In 1998, the Americans won 2-1 in Tokyo, 2-0 in Kobe and 3-0 in Yokohama, where they played in the stadium that would host the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final. On that tour in 1998, Kristine Lilly became the most-capped female player in the history of the world, passing Heidi Stoere of Norway, when she played in her 152nd. She hasn’t looked back and now, amazingly, has more than doubled that total. The USA and Japan are intertwined in Women's World Cup history, having met in both the 1991 and 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments. The USA won 3-0 in the first round in 1991 in China, and knocked the Japanese out in the quarterfinals in the 1995 in Sweden, winning 4-0, as Kristine Lilly scored twice. The two teams met in the quarterfinal of the 2004 Olympics and the USA needed a quirky second-half goal to win that game, with the score coming after Shannon Boxx beat the Japanese offside trap and raced in uncontested at goalkeeper Nozomi Yamago before passing to Abby Wambach who tapped the ball into an open net.

USA vs. Japan Preview
In recent history, the USA has had trouble breaking down the compact and hustling Japanese defense to create quality chances, but truth be told, Japan has created previous few as well. Of late, the U.S. team has been playing quality attacking soccer, one that has produced bucket loads of chances, if not goals, and Japan could find itself on the defensive a bit more than in past matches. Japan’s ability to play low pressure defense, dropping way back their half, then holding the ball after they win it and playing quick, one-touch soccer to relieve the USA’s defensive pressure has taken the sting out of the U.S. attack a bit. Japan has shown a proclivity playing a higher restraining line of late, compacting the middle of the field, but it is a tactic that could come back to bite them if the USA can exploit the offside trap. Only four players on the U.S. roster have scored against Japan in Abby Wambach (5 goals), Kristine Lilly (6 goals), Aly Wagner (2 goals) and Natasha Kai (1 goal). The usually high-scoring U.S. attack managed just four goals in the last four matches against the Japanese before scoring four in two games on the two-game tour there last year. The USA will no doubt be looking for ways to breakdown their organized team defense that features quick players all over the field. Japan features one of the best attacking midfielders in the world in former WUSA star Homare Sawa, although she has not had success recently against the USA, who have focused on the Japan’s greatest ever player, not giving her much room to operate in the middle of the park. Sawa is somewhat of a national celebrity and that has definitely added to the appeal of women's soccer in Japan, pushing the team and their results further into the spotlight. Sawa has racked up more than 60 international goals well over 100 senior appearances and has appeared in three previous FIFA Women's World Cups. Still, the more dangerous player may be forward Yuki Nagasato, who scored seven times during the Asian Qualifying Tournament for the Women’s World Cup. The slippery striker will be looking to find seems in the U.S. defense to fire her powerful shot.

Japan Edges Mexico to Earn Berth
Japan did not earn a berth directly to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup through the Asian Qualifying Tournament, held in Australia almost exactly a year ago. Australia defeated Japan 2-0, sending Japan to the third-place match. North Korea, participants in both the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, rebounded from a semifinal loss to China to defeat Japan, 3-2, in the third place match to earn their berth to China. As the fourth-place finisher, Japan was forced into a playoff against the third place-finisher from CONCACAF in a home-and-home series, which turned out to be Mexico. Approaching the play-off with renewed confidence, the Nadeshiko (the team’s nickname, which is Japanese word for the wild pink carnation that has come to symbolize the country's ideal woman) showed exemplary teamwork to win the first leg 2-0 in Tokyo. The return game, held at an intimidating altitude of 8,500 feet above sea level in Toluca, proved as difficult as expected after Mexico went firmly on the offensive. However, Eriko Arakawa scored the opening goal after 11 minutes, and even though the Japanese lost 2-1, they survived the difficult encounter with a 3-2 aggregate win to book their places at the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Japan Possible Second Round Opponent for the USA?
If all goes well for the USA and Japan in first round play at the Women’s World Cup, the teams could potentially meet in the quarterfinals. The Japanese know they have a good chance of making the second round out of Group A. Although the powerful Germans are in their group, England will be playing in its first Women’s World Cup since 1995 and Argentina is in its second after crashing out with three losses in 2003. Japan opens against England and then plays Argentina, no doubt hoping to have enough points accrued by its third match against Germany that it will not be a “must-win” game to go through to the quarterfinals. While it is a possibility, due to daunting first-round matches for both the USA and Japan, neither team is thinking that this match could be a preview of the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal, should the USA win Group B and Japan finished second in Group A.

SAN JOSE, THEN HANOI: Japan is currently involved in qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games and will travel back to Japan after this match, then leave directly for Vietnam, where they will play an Olympic qualifying match on Aug. 4. Japan is currently in first place in Group A, having won three games and drawn one. Japan defeated Vietnam in Tokyo, 2-0, defeated Thailand in Bangkok, 4-0, defeated South Korea, 6-1, in Tokyo and then tied the Koreans 2-2 in the return leg. Japan still has the match left against Vietnam and then one against Thailand.

U.S. head coach Greg Ryan
On Japan:
“Japan is a very, very good team. They are much like North Korea in that they are small, fast and skillful, they play great soccer collectively. They are very dynamic and talented on the ball and they have some good attacking players. It will help us prepare for that first game against North Korea because they have very similar styles of play.”

On the match:
“This is a (U.S.) team that can score a lot of goals against Japan. We’ve got the right players. We’re good on our set pieces and we’re good in the air, so we’ve got an advantage there. We’re faster on our front line than they are on their back line and they play pretty high up the park. If our finishing is good, I think we’ll get some goals tomorrow.”

U.S. forward Abby Wambach
On Japan:
“I have a soft spot in my heart for Japan. My sister lived there for six years and Homare Sawa is one of my favorite players. I got to know her playing against her in the WUSA and Japan is a just a very sound, technical and hard working team.”

Stats of Note
With 74 career goals, Abby Wambach is one goal away from tying Cindy Parlow for fifth on the all-time U.S. goal scoring list. With 98 assists, Kristine Lilly is just two away from hitting the 100 assist mark, and would be the only player besides Mia Hamm to reach triple digits in assists.