The 2017 Tournament of Nations began this past Thursday as Brazil competed against Japan and resulted in a 1-1 draw. Later that evening, the United States faced Australia, who took a 1-0 lead in the tournament. Tomorrow, Japan will see Australia at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA.
Japan sets the standard in the first game
The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions Japan, kicked off the first match of the Tournament of Nations in Seattle, WA as they saw Brazil on the field. Known as the Nadeshiko, Japan had a solid first half and continued to make their way past the Brazilian defense. In the second half of the match, Yuka Momiki made the ideal header to give them a 1-0 lead. While Brazil was anxious and ready to score, they finally caught up and scored the equalizer in the 87th minute.
Rumi Utsugi of Seattle Reign in the NWSL also represents Japan and is the second player to achieve 95 caps for her country. Japan is known to be one of the U.S strongest competitors as they have have met at three of the last four World Championship Finals. Japan won’t save their competition for the U.S. when they face for the last game of the tournament on August 3rd, but will even give Australia a difficult match to lead the way.
Australia’s defeat against the U.S. brings hope for the tournament
On Thursday evening at Centurylink Field in Seattle, Australia wasn't only the leading team in the tournament thus far, but they also became the 16th country to defeat the U.S.
Veteran forward Lisa De Vanna is also the captain and currently has 40 goals on her record within 121 caps for her country. Her speed has allowed her to score three of the last four goals on the U.S. forward Sam Kerr of Sky Blue FC will also be representing Australia. In the NWSL, Kerr currently is one of three players in the league to achieve the 30 goal mark and has been named Player of the Week a total of three times. She recently was awarded player of thhe month for the second consecutive time. With Kerr and De Vanna’s speed the two will work well together to lead their team to success against Japan who will definitely put up a challenge.
With Australia achieving success against the U.S., Australia coach Alen Stajcic stated:
"I think there's been a lot of fear over the years, but look, I think we busted that myth at the World Cup, to be honest. Even though we didn't win that game, the players got a lot of belief out of that game. Especially in the first half that day, we walked off knowing we were the better team that half. I think that day was really a turning point for the team, and today was probably the result."
This win brought renewed hope for Australia and is a milestone in history for them as well as a motivation to bring the heat as they face Japan for the third match of the tournament.
These two skilled teams have much to offer from both ends as they have records to prove their talent, NWSL players to have insight from, and coaches who have trained them to be the best player they can be in preparation for these matches. With a mix of NWSL players, veterans, and world-class athletes, this game will be one to watch. Kickoff will start at 2:15 pm PT and can be watched on ESPN3, live from San Diego.