The United States Women’s National Team will kick off its fourth SheBelieves Cup tonight at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA, looking for its third tournament title in four outings. The USWNT won the inaugural event in 2016 and bounced back to win last year’s event after France won it in 2017. It all starts tonight against Japan at 7 p.m. ET (FS1).
The United States is 28-1-7 against Japan, out-scoring Nadeshiko Japan, 104-27. The U.S. famously lost to Japan in the 2011 Women’s World Cup in penalties, after a 2-2 draw spanning extra time. The U.S. also famously beat Japan, 5-2 in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final in a game where Carli Lloyd dazzled with a 16-minute hat trick including that goal from long range. You remember the one. We all do.
In the most recent meeting last summer, at the 2018 Tournament of Nations, the USWNT beat Japan, 4-2 as Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan netted a hat trick.
The U.S. has never lost a game in Chester, PA (5-0-1), including a 1-0 win vs. Germany in the 2017 SheBelieves Cup. In fact, the USWNT has not conceded a goal in its last four games there.
Morgan is still searching for her 100th career international goal, after failing to score in France or Spain. Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris will likely back up Alyssa Naeher again tonight.
Japan is the No. 8 team according to the latest FIFA world rankings, with the USWNT holding the No. 1 spot for now. Along with Brazil, this is the first SheBelieves Cup appearance for Japan. The tournament featured the U.S., France, England, and Germany in each of its first three years of existence.
Although not the powerhouse it was in years past, Japan is still a formidable opponent. Led by No. 4, captain Saki Kumagi, who plays professionally for Lyon in France, the Nadeshiko have a strong defense. However, the team’s weakness is in the attack despite the presence of Reign FC star Rumi Utsugi in the attacking midfield. Japan lost all of its 2018 matches in which it conceded more than one goal. The Japanese are not trending well against the world’s top teams, scoring about a goal per game recently against the world’s best competition. If the U.S. can open up the game or generate some set pieces and score a couple of goals, it should prove successful.
SheBelieves Cup Rules
The tournament’s winner will, as usual, be based on total points (three for a win, one for a draw), with the first tiebreaker being goal difference, followed by goals scored, then head-to-head result. If teams are still tied, the next tiebreaker will be the Fair Play ranking. Each team is permitted six substitutes per game.
Goalkeepers (3): 21-Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), 24-Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 19/0), 1- Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 40/0).
Defenders (8): 7-Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage; 32/0), 12-Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 14/1); 19-Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage; 77/24), 22-Emily Fox (UNC; 3/0), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 112/2); 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 151/0), 14-Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 27/0), 2- Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 28/0).
Midfielders (5): 8-Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 74/18); 16-Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 21/6), 3-Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage; 43/8), 6-Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 11/0), 25-McCall Zerboni (North Carolina Courage; 8/0).
Forwards (7): 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 143/25); 10-Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 266/105), 20-Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage; 5/1), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 155/98), 23-Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 108/47), 11-Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 45/13), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 146/41).
Goalkeepers (3): 18-Ayaka Saitoh (Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies), 1-Rei Takenaka (Inac Kobe Leonessa), 21-Erina Yamane (Real Betis, ESP).
Defenders (8 ): 6-Saori Ariyoshi (Nippon TV Beleza), 5-Nana Ichise (Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies), 4-Saki Kumagai (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), 23-Moeka Minami (Urawa Res Diamonds Ladies), 24-Asato Miyagawa (Nippon TV Beleza), 12-Risako Oga (Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara), 3-Aya Sameshima (Inac Kobe Leonessa), 22-Risa Shimizu (Nippon TV Beleza).
Midfielders (7): 14-Yui Hasegawa (Nippon TV Beleza), 16-Arisa Matsubara (Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara), 17-Narumi Miura (Nippon TV Beleza), 7-Emi Nakajima (Inac Kobe Leonessa), 8-Moeno Sakaguchi (Albirex Niigata Ladies), 9-Hina Sugita (Inac Kobe Leonessa), 2-Rumi Utsugi (Reign FC).
Forwards (5): 19-Jun Endo (Nippon TV Beleza), 13-Mayu Ikejiri (Suwon Urban Development Corporation WFC, KOR), 11-Rikako Kobayashi (Nippon TV Beleza), 15-Yuka Momiki (Nippon TV Beleza), 20-Kumi Yokoyama (AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies).
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Talen Energy Stadium — Chester, PA.
Streaming: FOX Sports GO.
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Enjoy the match. Go America!