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U.S. WNT Faces Japan Live on ESPN2 and ESPN3 on Sunday

The U.S. Women’s National Team faces 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Japan to kick off the Women’s Kirin Challenge Cup on Sunday, April 1, in Sendai, Japan.

© John Todd/isiphotos.com

Alex Morgan

IN THE IMAGE: Alex Morgan scored three goals during the U.S. WNT’s most recent 4-0 victory against Sweden on March 7 to take third place in the 2012 Algarve Cup.

U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Japan

Women’s Kirin Challenge Cup

Yurtec Stadium; Sendai, Japan 

March 30, 2012

The U.S. Women’s National Team kicks off an exhibition tournament when it faces 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Japan to open the inaugural Women’s Kirin Challenge Cup at 6:30 a.m. ET Sunday, April 1, at Yurtec Stadium in Sendai, Japan. The U.S. then faces Brazil in this three-team event at 7 a.m. ET on Tuesday, April 3, at Fukuda Denshi Arena in Chiba, Japan. Both matches will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and ESPN3. Fans also can follow the game via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.

The Kirin Challenge Cup features three of the current top-four teams in FIFA’s Women’s World Rankings. The U.S. is No. 1 just ahead of second-place Germany. Host Japan is ranked No. 3, and Brazil is ranked fourth ahead of Sweden. In the other Kirin matchup, Japan and Brazil square off at 7 a.m. ET on April 5 at Homes Stadium in Kobe, Japan.

With a handful of full international matches remaining before the 2012 Olympics, every game is valuable for U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage and her staff as they cut a talented and deep pool down to the 18-player roster that will compete in the Olympics. Twenty-one players have earned caps for the USA in 2012 and that number won’t grow much, if at all, as Sundhage starts focusing more on developing a starting lineup and individual roles heading into the Olympics.

GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Nicole Barnhart, 21-Ashlyn Harris, 1-Hope Solo
DEFENDERS (9): 19-Rachel Buehler, 14-Stephanie Cox, 22-Whitney Engen, 23-Meghan Klingenberg, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 2-Heather Mitts, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx, 17-Tobin Heath, 16-Lori Lindsey, 10-Carli Lloyd, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 8-Amy Rodriguez
FORWARDS (4): 12-Lauren Cheney, 11-Sydney Leroux, 13-Alex Morgan, 20-Abby Wambach

2012 U.S. WNT Schedule

* CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament
^ Algarve Cup
** Kirin Challenge Cup


  • U.S. forward Abby Wambach currently is tied for ninth all-time in career caps (176) with former U.S. WNT midfielder/forward Shannon MacMillan. Wambach will likely surpass MacMillan on Sunday when the USA faces Japan in the Kirin Challenge Cup.
  • Alex Morgan scored three goals during the USA’s most recent 4-0 victory against Sweden on March 7 to take third place in the 2012 Algarve Cup. Morgan’s effort marked the fifth hat trick for the WNT this year. Previous hat tricks included Amy Rodriguez (5) and Heather O’Reilly (3) on Jan. 20 against the Dominican Republic, Sydney Leroux (5) on Jan. 22 against Guatemala and Carli Lloyd (3) on Jan. 24 against Mexico.
  • All 23 players on the roster will be eligible to play against Japan. U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage will be allowed six substitutions in the match.
  • Forward Alex Morgan leads the USA in scoring in 2012, having found the net 11 times in the nine matches she played. Morgan’s hat trick (the first of her career) against Sweden in the third-place match of the Algarve Cup on March 5 made her the 15th player in U.S. history to reach double-figures in goals during a calendar year. Obviously, several U.S. greats have hit double figures in goals in multiple years.
  • No one player has played all 900 minutes for the USA so far this year, but team captain Christie Rampone has come close, sitting out just one half while playing 855 minutes.
  • When the USA plays Brazil on April 3 in Chiba, defender Stephanie Cox will be celebrating her 26th birthday.


  • The U.S. and Japan have played each other 27 previous times, with the USA posting 22-1-4 record. One of those ties included the eventual penalty kick shootout loss to Japan on July 17, 2011, in the FIFA Women’s World Cup after playing to a 2-2 draw through regulation and overtime.
  • The 2011 FIFA World Cup Final , played in Frankfurt, Germany, included two different U.S. leads when Alex Morgan notched a 69th-minute goal and Abby Wambach a 104th-minute goal in the first of two 15-minute overtimes. But Japan’s Aya Miyama (80th minute) and Homare Sawa (117th minute) had the answer, and Japan pulled through in the game-ending shootout for its first World Cup crown.
  • The USA suffered its first regulation loss against Japan on March 5, 2012, as Japan earned a 1-0 win and finished atop Group B at the 2012 Algarve Cup. The U.S. had to settle for the tournament’s third-place match, and the U.S. Women rebounded well with a strong 4-0 victory against Sweden.
  • This will be the USA’s first-ever match against Japan in Sendai. The U.S. Women have previously played in Japan in Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama, Kumamoto and Osaka.


  • U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage currently is tied for third all-time in WNT games coached with 92, matching 2008 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Anson Dorrance’s mark from 1986-1994. Sundhage will move into sole possession of third with her 93rd game at the helm when the USA faces Japan on Sunday, April 1, in the Kirin Challenge Cup. Sundhage holds a 77-6-9 record since becoming the U.S. WNT head coach in 2008.
  • The U.S. Women’s scoring rate of 5.1 goals per game (51 goals in 10 matches) this year is ahead of any previous pace. The current record is 4.38 goals per game in 1994 (57 goals in 13 games). That 1994 figure does not factor in Norway’s own goal (Aug. 7) and Canada’s own goal (Aug. 21).
  • The USA is 85-2-5 all-time when Abby Wambach scores a goal. The most recent of those two losses came in the 2011 Women’s World Cup against Sweden.
  • U.S. center back Christie Rampone made her 250th career international appearance during the USA’s 2-1 victory against New Zealand on Feb. 11. Rampone (254 caps) ranks fourth all-time in U.S. WNT history, with Kristine Lilly (352), Mia Hamm (275) and Julie Foudy (271) ranking No. 1 through No. 3.

3: Goals allowed by the U.S. in 10 matches this year
5: Goals scored in a game by Sydney Leroux (Jan. 22, 2012), Amy Rodriguez (Jan. 20, 2012), Abby Wambach (Oct. 23, 2004), Tiffeny Milbrett (Nov. 2, 2002), Michelle Akers (Nov. 24, 1991) and Brandi Chastain (April 18, 1991)
40: U.S. goals in 2011 through 20 total games (this number does not factor in Brazil’s own goal)
51: U.S. goals in 2012 through 10 games
56: The current unbeaten streak for the USA in domestic matches in which they are 50-0-6
194: Players who have earned a cap for the U.S. Women’s National Team since the program’s inception in 1985, the most recent being Whitney Engen, who earned her first cap against Norway at the Algarve Cup on March 4, 2011
236: Goals scored during head coach Pia Sundhage’s 92 games as U.S. WNT head coach

Article: Heather O’Reilly: Ironwoman
Article: U.S. WNT Roster Named for Two Matches in Japan
Article: U.S. WNT to Host China on May 27 in Chester, Pa.
Studio 90: Kicks with Kids from Sendai, Japan
The WNT Blog: Visit to the Tsunami Zone
The WNT Blog: For the Kids
The WNT Blog: Scenic Scenes
The WNT Blog: Sundhage to Surpass Hall of Famer Dorrance
Video: All Aboard on the Japanese Bullet Train
Video: Inside the Lines: U.S. WNT Trains in Sendai, Japan
Video: One Day as a Tokyo Tourist

PIA SUNDHAGE FACT FILE: Head coach Pia Sundhage is in the midst of her fourth full year in charge of the U.S. Women’s National Team. Below are some of her accomplishments as a player and coach.

  • Sundhage is the sixth official coach and second female coach in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team program.
  • Sundhage’s record as head coach of the Women’s National Team is 77-6-9, with 236 goals for and 46 against.
  • As a player, Sundhage was one of the game’s best-ever players, finishing sixth in the voting for FIFA Women’s Player of the Century. A legendary player in Sweden, she played for her country in the 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cups and 1996 Olympics. She scored four goals for Sweden at the 1991 Women’s World Cup, helping the Swedes to a third-place finish. She scored one goal in the 1995 Women’s World Cup (against Germany) and played every minute of all three matches at the Atlanta Olympics.
  • Sundhage started her coaching career while still playing, serving as player-coach for Hammarby from 1992-1994. She also coached Sweden’s Youth National Teams for 11 years from 1990-2001, coaching the U-16s, U-19s and U-21s.
  • After her retirement from the international game in 1996, she became head coach of the Sweden Under-19 Women’s National Team, leading the team to one gold medal and two bronze medals at the European Championships. She served as a scout for Sweden during the 1997 European Championships, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2000 Olympics. Sundhage has also worked for FIFA on its Technical Study Group staff for the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand.
  • Since taking over as head coach, Sundhage has given 17 players their first senior team caps.

Japan Football Association
Founded: 1921 (Joined FIFA in 1929)
Head Coach: Norio Sasaki
FIFA World Ranking: 3
Best FIFA World Cup Finish: Champions (2011)
Best Olympics Finish: Quarterfinals (2004)

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Ayumi Kaihori (INAC Leonessa), 12-Miho Fukumoto (Yunogo Belle)
DEFENDERS (10): 2-Yukari Kinga (INAC Leonessa), 3-Chiaki Minamiyama (INAC Leonessa), 4-Saki Kumagai (FFC Frankfurt), 5-Aya Sameshima (Montpellier HSC), 13-Rumi Utsugi (Montpellier HSC), 14-Asuna Tanaka (INAC Leonessa), 15-Saori Ariyoshi (NTV Beleza), 16-Kyoko Yano (Urawa), 22-Yuuri Kawamura (Albirex Niigata Ladies), 23-Kana Osafune (Vegalta Sendai)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 6-Mizuho Sakaguchi (NTV Beleza), 8-Aya Miyama (Yunogo Belle), 9-Nahomi Kawasumi (INAC Leonessa), 18-Megumi Kamionobe (Albirex Niigata Ladies), 21-Manami Nakano (Yunogo Belle), 24-Yumi Uetsuji (Vegalta Sendai)
FORWARDS (5): 7-Kozue Ando (FCR 2011 Duisburg), 11-Shinobu Ohno (INAC Leonessa), 17-Yuki Nagasato (FFC Turbine Potsdam), 19-Megumi Takase (INAC Leonessa), 20-Yuika Sugasawa (Albirex Niigata Ladies)


  • Ayumi Kaihori, the starting goalkeeper during Japan’s 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup title run, saved penalty kick attempts against the USA’s Shannon Boxx and Tobin Heath during the championship game shootout.
  • Defender Saki Kumagai scored the game-winning PK in the 2011 World Cup final.
  • Midfielder Aya Miyama, who had a goal and the first penalty kick during the shootout of Japan’s World Cup win in 2011, played for Women’s Professional Soccer sides Los Angeles Sol (2009), St. Louis Athletica (2010) and the Atlanta Beat (2010). Mayama took over the captaincy from Sawa starting with the Algarve Cup this past match.
  • Forward Megumi Takase scored Japan’s lone goal in the 1-0 victory against the U.S. on March 7 at the Algarve Cup, a header off a corner kick on Japan’s only shot of the second half.
  • Japan’s long-time star and 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Player of the Year Homare Sawa is suffering from a form of vertigo and was not included in the roster.

On the field for the USA:
March 7, 2012 – Estadio Municipal Bela Vista – Parchal, Portugal – Algarve Cup Third-Place Match
USA       4 Alex Morgan 4, 33, 72; Abby Wambach 36
Sweden 0

USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 6-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Rachel Buehler, 5-Kelley O’Hara; 9-Heather O’Reilly (15-Megan Rapinoe, 71), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd (12-Lauren Cheney, 71), 17-Tobin Heath (8-Amy Rodriguez, 56); 13-Alex Morgan, 20-Abby Wambach (11-Sydney Leroux, 82)
Subs not used: 1-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 14-Stephanie Cox, 16-Lori Lindsey, 22-Whitney Engen
Head coach: Pia Sundhage

SWE: 1-Hedvig Lindahl; 2-Charlotte Rohlin (capt.), 2-Stina Segerstrom (7-Linda Sembrant, 46), 6-Sara Thunebro, 13-Emma Berglund (20-Marie Hammaström, 85); 5-Caroline Seger, 11-Antonia Göransson (10-Sofia Jakobsson, 63), 14-Johanna Almgren (18-Nilla Fischer, 46), 15-Therese Sjögran (19-Susanne Moberg, 88), 17-Lisa Dahlkvist; 8-Lotta Schelin (9-Jessica Landstrom)
Subs not used: 4-Annica Svensson, 12-Kristin Hammarstrom, 16-Madelaine Edlund, 21-Sofia Lundgren
Head coach: Thomas Dennerby

Vs. Japan for the USA:
March 7, 2012 – Estadio Algarve – Faro, Portugal – Algarve Cup
USA    0
Japan 1 Megumi Takase 84

USA: 1-Hope Solo; 6-Amy LePeilbet (17-Tobin Heath, 87), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Rachel Buehler, 5-Kelley O’Hara (14-Stephanie Cox, 46); 12-Lauren Cheney (9-Heather O’Reilly, 46), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd (16-Lori Lindsey, 31), 8-Amy Rodriguez (15-Megan Rapinoe, 46); 13-Alex Morgan, 20-Abby Wambach (11-Sydney Leroux, 72)
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 22-Whitney Engen
Head coach: Pia Sundhage

JPN: 12-Miho Fukumoto; 2-Yukari Kinga, 3-Azusa Iwashimizu (13-Rumi Utsugi, 65), 4-Saki Kumagai, 5-Aya Sameshima, 14-Asuna Tanaka (16-Kanako Ito, 90+3), 6-Mizuho Sakaguchi (20-Yuika Sugasawa, 79), 8-Aya Miyama, 17-Yuki Nagasato, 7-Kozue Ando (19-Megumi Takase, 65), 11-Shinobu Ohno (9-Nahomi Kawasumi, 65)
Subs not used: 1-Ayumi Kaihori, 15-Saori Ariyoshi, 18-Nanase Kiryu, 21-Mai Kyokawa
Head coach: Norio Sasaki

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