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The Week In Women’s Football: USA meets Japan as Brazil take on Canada; US saga rolls on

NWSL took a break for international friendlies, with Japan visiting the U.S. and Brazil going to Ontario to play Canada. We also have an update on the conflict between the U.S. National Women's National Team Union and their Federation, with a federal court ruling late last week.


U.S. versus Japan Friendlies

The U.S. Women's National Team had two high profile friendlies with Japan while UEFA staged women's qualifiers for next summer's European Championships.

In the first match on June 2 at Commerce City, Colorado at Dick's Sporting Goods Park - where the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer play - in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,572, Japan tied the World Champions 3-3 in a wide open match. Japan, who finished in second place to the Americans in last summer's World Cup, scored two goals within the first 25 minutes.

The Americans patiently came back to lead 3-2 lead on a late goal, only to be stymied by Kumi Yokoyama's (AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies) goal in stoppage time, when Japan was down to 10 players. The 2-0 deficit marked the first time the USA trailed by two goals at home in almost 12 years. German based forwards Mana Iwabuchi (Bayern Munich) and Yuki Ogimi (1 FFC Frankfurt) scored in the 14th and 22nd minute respectively, while Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) replied in the 27th and 64th minute to pull the U.S. back on level terms. Ogimi was ejected for her second yellow card in the 57th minute, leaving Japan with only10 players. Colorado native and ex-Paris St. Germain star Lindsey Horan - now in her first season with the Portland Thorns - scored in the 89th minute for what seemed like a U.S. winner until substitute Yokoyama's last gasp goal at the death from a Mizuho Sakaguchi assist (NTV Beleza). For the U.S. it was the first time that they had dropped points in 12 matches in 2016, winning eleven straight times.

Match 1
June 2, 2016 - Commerce City, Colorado

USA: 3 (Morgan 27, 64, Horan 89)

Japan: 3 (Iwabuchi 14, Ogimi 22, Yokoyama 90+3)


USA - Hope Solo; Kelley O'Hara, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn (c), Meghan Klingenberg (Ali Krieger, 74); Morgan Brian (Lindsey Horan, 61), Allie Long, Pugh; Crystal Dunn (Christen Press, 61), Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath (Samantha Mewis, 84)


Japan - Yamashita; Ariyoshi, Muramatsu, Kumagai, Sasak (Nakasato, 81); Nakajima, Sakaguchi, Utsugi (Kawamura, 46), Ogimi, Chiba (Masuya, 62), Iwabuchi (Yokoyama, 56).


In the second match, played in Cleveland's FirstEnergy Stadium on July 5, the Americans dominated the match and came away with a 2-0 win. Defender Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars) and forward Alex Morgan scored in the 27th and 62nd minute, respectively. The crowd of 23,535 was a state of Ohio all-time record for a women's national team game. The referee took the players off of the field in the 76th minute due to heavy rain and lighting and the game was called after a long delay as the weather conditions worsened.

Match 2
June 5, 2016 - Cleveland, Ohio

USA: 2 (Johnston 27, Morgan 62)

Japan: 0

USA - Solo; O'Hara, Johnston, Sauerbrunn (c), Klingenberg; Brian (Horan, 57), Long, Press; Dunn (Krieger, 75), Morgan, Heath
Subs Not Used: 3-Samantha Mewis, 6-Whitney Engen, 9-Heather O'Reilly, 15-Emily Sonnett, 21-Alyssa Naeher
Head coach: Jill Ellis

JPN - 1-Erina Yamane; 5-Yuri Kawamura (2-Saori Ariyoshi, 56),15-Hikari Takagi, 4-Saki Kumagai, 6-Rumi Utsugi (capt.); 17-Ami Sugita (7-Emi Nakajima 46), 10-Mizuho Sakaguchi, 14-Yu Nakasato, 13-Rika Masuya (19-Mayu Sasaki, 65); 11-Yuika Sugasawa (8-Sonoko Chiba, 46), 16-Mana Iwabuchi (20-Kumi Yokoyama, 64)
Subs Not Used: 3-Tomoko Muramatsu, 12-Ayaka Yamashita, 18-Sakiko Ikeda
Head coach: Asako Takakura



U.S. Women's National Team head coach Jill Ellis had named 25 players to her training camp roster ahead of the two Japan matches. Ellis planned to name 18 players to suit up for each match. Ellis explained her strategy: “We are going with a slightly larger roster for this camp than the last few, so internally we can play in more 11v11 training scenarios. My staff and I have been watching the league play, and now we get to evaluate them back together. Both environments are important."

U.S. captain Carli Lloyd, who scored the famous hat trick in the WWC final last summer against Japan, is not on the roster as she continues rehabilitation of a strained MCL suffered during NWSL play with the Houston Dash.

The roster features the return of defender Christie Rampone. She has not played for the USA since September of last year during the Women's World Cup Victory Tour, but has since recovered from knee surgery and has played in all five matches for Sky Blue FC so far this season. Fifteen players on the U.S. roster were members of the 2015 Women's World Cup championship team.

Of the 25 players called into camp, 24 have been with the U.S. team in 2016. The other, defender Gina Lewandowski, helped FC Bayern Munich capture the 2015/2016 Frauen-Bundesliga title. She is in her second national team camp, after her first cap last October during the Women's World Cup Victory Tour, when she came on as a sub against Brazil.

U.S. Women's National Team Roster by Position:


GOALKEEPERS (4): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)

DEFENDERS (10): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Gina Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (University of Wisconsin), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City)

FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)

Asako Takakura has been appointed as the first-ever female coach of Japan's senior Women's National Team following the resignation of Norio Sasaki. Sasaki guided Japan to the 2011 WWC title, and second in 2015 and at the London Olympics to the U.S. on both occasions, but the team started slowly this spring in the Asian qualifiers and was eliminated from the Olympic Games. Takakura is widely respected in Japan as she played for the national team, earning 79 caps and appearing in the 1991 and 1995 World Cups as well as the 1996 Olympics. She has coached every age group from Under-13 upwards in Japan. She led Japan to the 2014 Under-17 Women's World Cup title and will coach her country at the U-20 Women's World Cup later this year in Papua New Guinea.


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)


Canada versus Brazil

On June 4, Canada's Women's National Team fell to Brazil 2-0, with Marta scoring the two goals in the first half (11' and 41'), in front of 28,604 at Toronto's BMO Field, home of Toronto FC of Major League Soccer. The crowd was the largest to see the national team in Ontario and second largest ever in the country for a friendly (not including last summer's Women's World Cup gates), behind 29,953 in Edmonton in 2003 when Canada defeated Mexico 8-0.

On the 20 player roster, nine are with NWSL sides, five play for U.S. colleges, two are with overseas clubs (Melissa Tancredi with Orebro in Sweden and Sophie Schmidt of Frankfurt in Germany) and the rest play in Canada or are between clubs.

The Canadian roster for the Brazil friendlies is as follows:

CANADA


GOALKEEPERS (3)

Stephanie Labbé, age 29, from Edmonton, AB/ Washington Spirit (NWSL)
Sabrina D'Angelo, age 23, from Welland, ON/ Western New York Flash (NWSL)
Kailen Sheridan age 20, from Whitby, ON/ Clemson University (NCAA)


DEFENDERS (6)

Kadeisha Buchanan, age 20, from Brampton, ON /West Virginia University (NCAA)
Rebecca Quinn, age 20, from Toronto, ON / Duke University (NCAA)
Shelina Zadorsky, age 23, from London, ON/ Washington Spirit (NWSL)
Josée Bélanger, age 30, from Coaticook, QC./ Orlando Pride (NWSL)
Allysha Chapman, age 27, from Courtice, ON/ Houston Dash (NWSL)
Rhian Wilkinson, age 34, from Baie-d'Urfé, QC/Unattached


MIDFIELDERS (6)

Jessie Fleming, age 18, from London, ON/ London NorWest Optimist SC
Ashley Lawrence, age 20, from Caledon, ON/ West Virginia University (NCAA)
Diana Matheson, age 32, from Oakville, ON/ Washington Spirit (NWSL)
Deanne Rose, age 17, from Alliston, ON/ Scarborough GS United
Sophie Schmidt, age 27, from Abbotsford, BC/ FFC Frankfurt (Frauen-Bundesliga)
Desiree Scott, age 28, from Winnipeg, MB/ FC Kansas City (NWSL)


FORWARDS (5)

Janine Beckie, age 21, from Highlands Ranch, CO./Houston Dash (NWSL)

Gabrielle Carle, age 17, from Lévis, QC/ Dynamo Québec
Nichelle Prince, age 21, from Ajax, ON/ The Ohio State University (NCAA)

Christine Sinclair, age 32, from Burnaby, BC/ Portland Thorns FC (NWSL)

Melissa Tancredi, age 34, from Ancaster, ON/ KIF Örebro (Damallsvenskan)


U.S. Women's National Team Conflict with U.S. Soccer - A Federal Court Ruling

A U.S. federal judge on Friday June 3 ruled that the U.S. women's national soccer team don not have a right to strike under their current collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer.
The U.S. women's national team is trying to improve their salaries and other contract provisions, which expires at the end of the year. The Olympic Games had been used as a negotiating tool for a possible strike, as had previous high profile friendlies this year with England, France and Germany. The U.S. Soccer Federation sued to clarify the issues so the Olympics are safe. In the same way, the CBA does not allow U.S. Soccer to lock the players out. U.S. Soccer argued that withdrawing from the Olympics, in which the American women will attempt to win their fourth straight Gold medal and fifth in six editions, would have negative connotations for the sport in general in the U.S. The union wanted the option but had not definitely stated that they would strike. The U.S. women have struck in the past (during the 1990's) so it is a serious concern when it is brought up. This ruling probably will not be a mitigating deterrent to other women's national teams considering using the strike option in the future, since as an American-specific legal ruling, it does not apply outside of U.S. borders. Australia's women's side had to back out of friendlies because of contract discussions and Trinidad threatened to last year as well. As a long-time supporter of the women's game, we want to see benefits and conditions improve but the strikes can set the women's game back in support from federations as well as in goodwill and interest from fans. For the Americans, who have been drawing crowds regularly in the 20,000 to 30,000 range for friendly matches at home, a strike could definitely reduce those figures, ultimately hurting their standing as leaders in women's sports in the U.S. as well as the Federation's revenue. Stay tuned for more news as the negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement—the current CBA expires in December 2016--will no doubt be very contentious, with the players' complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on their much lower compensation versus the men's national team still to be heard.

The next question will be how many of the players will want to go to the Olympics for fear of the Zika virus; goalkeeper Hope Solo came out earlier this year with severe reservations.


Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribalfootball. His latest book is Beyond Bend it Like Beckham, on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey



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