CHICAGO (June 2, 2016) – With just four matches remaining before the U.S. Women’s National Team heads to Brazil for the 2016 Olympics, the first and second of those games will see the USA play its first matches against Japan since the historic 2015 Women’s World Cup Final. That epic encounter took place on July 5, 2015 at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada and a bit less than 11 months later, the teams meet again on June 2 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. (7 p.m. MT on FS1, UDN). The USA and Japan will then will travel to Cleveland for the second leg of the two-game set on June 5 at FirstEnergy Stadium (12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2). U.S. head coach Jill Ellis will name 18 players to suit up for each match. Fans can also follow all the action from #USAvJPN on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and @ussoccer_esp, and follow the team along its journey on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (ussoccer_wnt).
The USA is 11-0-0 in 2016, earning 10 shutouts and scoring 42 goals while allowing just one. The USA started the year with a 5-0 win against Ireland and then won two tournaments early in the year – taking the title at the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February and the SheBelieves Cup in March. In the SheBelieves Cup, the USA defeated England 1-0 on March 3 with a spectacular late goal from Crystal Dunn, downed France 1-0 in stoppage time on March 6 off a brilliant pass from Mallory Pugh to Alex Morgan, who finished with class in the first minute of stoppage time, and then came from behind to defeat Germany, 2-1, in a match it had to win to take the tournament title. The USA played two friendly matches against Olympic Group G opponent Colombia in April, winning 7-0 and 3-0 with seven different players scoring the 10 goals. After the matches against Japan, the USA will finish its Road to Rio with two Olympic send-off games, a meeting with South Africa for the first time in history on July 9 in Chicago and a soon to be announced match in late July before the team departs for Brazil.
In Commerce City, Colo., the USA will be looking to tie its best start to a calendar year. In 1991 and 1997, the USA started the year 12-0-0, scoring 80 goals in 1991 through the first 12 games while allowing only one goal, and scoring 55 goals through the first 12 games in 1997 while allowing six.
U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (4): 24-Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), 18-Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), 21-Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), 1-Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (9): 6-Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), 19-Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), 8-Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), 7-Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), 11-Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), 26-Gina Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), 6-Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 14-Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), 20-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), 25-Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin), 23-Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), 3-Samantha Mewis (Western NY Flash), 9-Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): 16-Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), 12-Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars); 2-Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)
JAPAN WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Erina Yamane (JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies), 12-Ayaka Yamashita (NTV Beleza), 18-Sakiko Ikeda (Urawa Reds Ladies)
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Saori Ariyoshi (NTV Beleza), 3-Tomoko Muramatsu (NTV Beleza), 4-Saki Kumagai (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), 5-Yuri Kawamura (Vegalta Sendai Ladies), 6-Rumi Utsugi (Montpellier HSC, FRA), 15-Hikari Takagi (Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara), 19-Mayu Sasaki (Vegalta Sendai Ladies)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 7-Emi Nakajima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), 8-Sonoko Chiba (AS Harima Albion), 10-Mizuho Sakaguchi (NTV Beleza), 13-Rika Masuya (INAC Kobe Leonessa), 14-Yu Nakasato (NTV Beleza), 17-Ami Sugita (Iga Football Club Kunoichi)
FORWARDS (4): 9-Yuki Ogimi (1.FFC Frankfurt, GER), 11-Yuika Sugasawa (JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies), 16-Mana Iwabuchi (FC Bayern Munich, GER), 20-Kumi Yokoyama (AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies)
USA vs. Japan: The USA and Japan have a rich history dating back to 1986, the second year of the U.S. WNT program, but of course it’s the more recent meetings which have forever linked these two countries together in women’s soccer history. While the streak will end at this summer’s Olympics, the USA and Japan have met in the last three world finals, with the USA losing the 2011 Women’s World Cup in penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie over regulation and overtime, then winning the 2012 Olympic goal medal game 2-1, and the historic 2015 Women’s World Cup Final 5-2. These will be the first meetings with Japan since the Women’s World Cup and the USA has an all-time record of 25-1-6 against the Asian nation. They USA has outscored Japan 92-22. Since falling in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, the USA has gone 3-1-2 against Japan, outscoring them 13-7. Seven Japanese players who played against the USA in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final are on this roster, and two played as subs. The USA has nine players on this roster who played in the Women’s World Cup Final, including one as a sub (Kelley O’Hara). Three additional players on the Japan roster for these two friendlies were on the World Cup roster, but did not play in the Final while the USA has five players on its roster from the Women’s World Cup that did not play in the Final.
Solo Closes in on 100 Shutouts: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo comes into the June matches with 98 career shutouts, and is two away from becoming the first goalkeeper in U.S. history to reach the 100 mark. Solo has nine wins in 2016, eight by shutout, and also has a good chance to surpass her high of 13 shutouts in a calendar year achieved in another Olympic year, 2008. Solo has earned shutouts against 28 different countries, including four against Japan. Solo is the leader for caps by a goalkeeper in U.S. history with 194 and is six away from becoming the first goalkeeper in U.S. and world history to hit 200, which she will likely reach in the Olympics. Briana Scurry earned 173 caps in her career (1994-2008). She has the most starts by a WNT goalkeeper with 187 and is in 8th place on the WNT’s all-time starts list behind Carli Lloyd. Solo has 148 goalkeeper wins and is the all-time leader in wins for a goalkeeper in U.S. history. Brian Scurry had 133 during her career (1994-2008).
Carli Lloyd Will Miss June Games: Carli Lloyd, the reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and U.S. Soccer Player of the Year, will miss the Japan matches as she continues to recover from a MLC strain suffered while playing for the Houston Dash on April 23. Lloyd, who has eight goals this year, tied for the team lead with Crystal Dunn and Alex Morgan, has scored six career goals against Japan, three in Olympic competition along with her famous hat trick in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final. She is expected to be fit and healthy well in advance of the USA’s July Olympic send-off matches. She will miss her first U.S. WNT games since the very beginning of 2014 when she did not play in the first match of the year, a 1-0 victory vs. Canada in Frisco, Texas on Jan. 31. Lloyd has scored 87 goal in her career and is just 13 from becoming the sixth player in U.S. history to score 100 or more.
Home Sweet Denver: The USA’s trip to Denver will bring three players back home as midfielder Lindsey Horan, forward Mallory Pugh and defender Jaelene Hinkle return to the area where they attended high school and played youth club soccer. Horan grew up in Golden and played for the Colorado Rush for many years before deciding to forego college for a professional career in France, where she played for three and a half seasons with Paris Saint-Germain before returning to the USA to play for the Portland Thorns this year. Pugh, who hails from Highland Ranch, turned 18 on April 29 and graduated from high school on May 18. She is still technically a member of Real Colorado, but has committed to attend UCLA in the fall. Hinkle also played for Real Colorado before heading to college at Texas Tech, and currently plays for the Western New York Flash.
Asako Takakura and a New Era for Japan: Following its failure to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, Japan fell from fourth in the world to seventh, and long-time head coach Norio Sasaki, who led Japan to its greatest triumphs, including three straight world finals, stepped aside. Asako Takakura, who is one of the pioneers of Japan women’s soccer, was appointed as the first female coach of Japan’s senior Women’s National Team on April 27. The four-time Asian Women’s Coach of the Year made her national team debut at the age of 16 and was a midfielder in her playing days. She earned 79 caps for Japan while scoring 30 goals. She played in the 1991 and 1995 World Cups, as well as the 1996 Olympics. She has been an integral part of the Japanese coaching infrastructure for years, having coached every age group from Under-13 upwards. She led Japan to the 2014 Under-17 Women’s World Cup title and the 2015 Asian U-19 Championship while also serving on the FIFA technical study group at last year’s World Cup. She will also coach Japan in this year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
USA Set to Face New Zealand, France and Colombia In Olympic Group Play: The Final Draw for the Olympic Tournament was held on April 14 in Rio de Janeiro and the United States was drawn into Group G with New Zealand, France and Colombia for the tournament taking place from Aug. 3-19 at seven venues throughout Brazil. The U.S. will open Group G play on Aug. 3 - two days before the Olympic Opening Ceremonies - against New Zealand (7 p.m. local / 6 p.m. ET) at Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte. The USA will stay in Belo Horizonte - which is 270 miles north of Rio de Janeiro - to face France at Mineirão Stadium on Aug. 6 (5 p.m. local / 4 p.m. ET) and finish group play against Colombia on Aug. 9 (6 p.m. local / 6 p.m. ET) at the Amazônia Stadium in Manaus, the same arena in which the U.S. MNT tied Portugal 2-2 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the furthest soccer venue from Rio (more than 1,700 miles). Drawn into Group E with Brazil were China PR, Sweden and South Africa. Group F will consist of Germany, Canada, the tournament's only debutante Zimbabwe, and Australia.
At Dick’s Sporting Goods Park: This will be the USA’s fourth visit to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and fifth to the Denver area. The WNT has won all four games, playing at DSG Park in 2008 (1-0 vs. Brazil), 2012 (6-2 vs. Australia) and 2014 (2-0 vs. China PR). The USA defeated Brazil 6-0 at Mile High Stadium back in 1999 following the Women’s World Cup triumph on home soil.