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SheBelieves 2019 match preview: USA vs Japan

SheBelieves Cup - United States v England Photo by Alex Menendez/ Getty Images

Update 11:30 AM ET: Emily Fox replaces Danny Colaprico on the roster

It’s time for SheBelieves, the USWNT’s annual high profile friendly mini-tournament! Well, one of them. This year, the United States will be taking on Japan, England, and Brazil, all of them World Cup teams. SheBelieves might be a ticket seller for US Soccer, but it’s also great World cup preparation. Japan in particular is of interest to the team and fans alike; obviously, they were favorites to win in 2015 and were winners themselves in 2011, so the pressure is high for Japan to advance deep into the WWC.

Japan has gone through a bit of rebuilding/restructuring since 2015, all building up again towards 2019. They lost World-Cup winning head coach Norio Sasaki in 2016 after the team failed to qualify for the Olympics and subsequent head coach Asako Takakura has been cycling the team to bring in newer faces among a handful of remaining veterans. These are by no means untested players, though, with many of their squad having played in the 2018 AFC Championship, which they won with a narrow 1-0 victory over Australia. Japan’s defense also has esteemed players Saki Kumagai and Aya Sameshima available to provide guidance, given their combined 203 caps.

On the other end of the field, both in terms of position and age, young forward Jun Endo will get to test herself against the US defense. She can drift in late to clean up balls in the box but also has some pace and nice footwork to turn the corner around fullbacks and pick out threats in front of goal. Endo was a member of Japan’s tournament-winning squad in the 2018 U-20 World Cup, helping them beat Spain 3-1 in the final. Endo was part of a team that played confident, patient possession soccer and helped take apart a similarly confident Spain squad; we’ll see if the same applies to the full senior team.

Possible starting XI

Just a reminder that Lindsey Horan is unavailable for these games due to injury. We may also see the return of Kelley O’Hara, but it’s probably not good odds that she’ll start right away returning from injury. But assuming she had a healthy camp, a sub is a good bet, particularly as the USWNT has been hurting a little bit for real fullback options.




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 (7): 7-Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 32/0), 12-Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 14/1); 19-Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 77/24), 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 (6): 22-Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars; 2/0), 8-Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 74/18); 16-Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 21/6), 3-Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 43/8), 6-Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 11/0), 25-McCall Zerboni (NC Courage; 8/0)

FORWARDS (7): 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 143/25); 10-Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 266/105), 20-Jessica McDonald (NC 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 (Seattle Reign FC, USA)

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)


USA vs Japan
Wednesday, February 27
7 PM ET / 4 PM PT
Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, PA