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.
ABOUT THE KIRIN FIELD: 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.
LONDON CALLING: 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.
U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
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