U.S. Women to Play Japan on May 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium
CHICAGO (March 13, 2009) – The U.S. Women’s National Team will face Japan, the 2008 Olympic semifinalists on Saturday, May 23 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The game will kick off at 4 p.m. MT and will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel, with fans also able to follow online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
The last meeting between the teams yielded six goals when the two countries faced off in a dramatic 2008 Olympic semifinal encounter in Beijing, won 4-2 by the USA. The Americans fell behind 1-0 in that game, but stormed back to score four goals before Japan pulled one back in second-half stoppage time. The USA also edged Japan 1-0 in a must-win game during group play.
Tickets starting from $18, plus special $150 on-field seats, go on sale to the public Saturday, March 21, at 10 a.m. MT through ussoccer.com, by phone at 801-727-2700 (Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and at the Rio Tinto Stadium ticket office (open Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and special hours on Saturday, March 21, starting at 10 a.m.) Groups of 20 or more can obtain an order form at ussoccer.com or call 312-528-1290. Ultimate Fan Tickets (special VIP packages which include a premium ticket, a custom made official U.S. national team jersey with name and number, VIP access to the field before and after the game, and other unique benefits) are also available exclusively through ussoccer.com.
As a sponsor of U.S. Soccer, Visa® is pleased to offer all Visa cardholders access to an advance ticket sale for this match before the sale to the general public. This advance sale starts Thursday, March 19, at 10 a.m. MT and runs until Saturday, March 21, at 8 a.m. at ussoccer.com. Visa will be the only payment method accepted through the Visa presale and is the preferred card of U.S. Soccer. Terms and conditions apply.
The match will be a part of a two-game series with Japan. The first game will be played on May 20 at a site to be announced in the near future. The games will mark the first international matches during the inaugural WPS season, which begins March 29. Several Japanese players will also be playing in the league this year.
“These will be interesting games, not only because my coaching staff and I will get the chance to watch many players in the WPS before picking our roster, but also because of the way Japan played during the Olympics,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “The way they move the ball around is to be admired and emulated and, I am sure these will be very entertaining matches for the fans and the players.”
The U.S. team has played just one match in its history in Utah, a 5-0 victory against Ireland before nearly 20,000 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2003. This will be the first visit for a U.S. National Team to the gleaming new Rio Tinto Stadium, which opened just last October. The U.S. Men will play their first match there on Sept. 5 in a FIFA World Cup qualifier against El Salvador.
The USA and Japan have had a long history dating back to 1986, the second year of the U.S. program’s existence. The USA played Japan in the 1991 and 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cups as well as the quarterfinal stage at the 2004 Olympics. Of course, the two matches at the 2008 Olympics were among the best between the two countries. Japan has never defeated the USA, but tied three straight matches played between 2000 and 2004.
Japan will likely feature its all-time greatest player, midfielder Homare Sawa, who is playing for the Washington Freedom in WPS. Midfielder Aya Miyama (Los Angeles Sol) and forward Eriko Arakawa (FC Gold Pride) also had excellent Olympic tournaments in China.
The U.S. team just completed another run to the final of the prestigious Algarve Cup, where Sweden edged out the Americans on March 11 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie in regulation. At the tournament, the U.S. posted victories against Denmark, Iceland and Norway as Hope Solo was named the tournament’s top player, allowing one goal in four games. The U.S. Women are scheduled to play two more domestic matches in July, which will be announced in the near future, and after that, will not come together again until after the WPS season.