With just over a week left until the 2018 Tournament of Nations kicks off, Japan have named 23 players to their roster as they look to better their fourth place finish from last year.
Two players from Seattle Reign FC, Nahomi Kawasumi and Rumi Utsugi, are the only players from the National Women's Soccer League called up by head coach Asako Takakura and will join the squad on July 23rd.
Kawasumi and Utsugi's form has them back in national team contention
After a great 2017 and a 2018 start that has seen the Reign currently sitting in second place in the NWSL, both Kawasumi and Utsugi have earned their call ups. Kawsumi has two assists so far but her overall play has helped the Reign stay in the playoff hunt especially in periods where key players have been out injured for Seattle. After being dropped from the national team for most of 2016 and 2017, Kawasumi has now been brought back by Takakura and that has been due to just how well Kawasumi has been playing.
Utsugi is coming back from injury but her form has been just as impressive as Kawasumi's for Seattle. In a midfield three with Allie Long and Jess Fishlock, Utsugi has been the metronome of the team and also one of its best defensive players as her ability to cut out passes in midfield and position herself well has allowed the Reign to be able to play their way no matter who they are facing. Utsugi's sole goal this season has been a memorable one, the game-winning goal against Portland Thorns FC earlier this season but with her ability, Utsugi will probably add to that total once she is back in the line up.
Full 23-player roster
Goalkeepers: Sakiko Ikeda (Urawa Diamonds Ladies), Ayaka Yamashita (Nippon TV Beleza), Chika Hirao (Albirex Niigata Ladies).
Defenders: Aya Sameshima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Saori Ariyoshi (Nippon TV Beleza), Rumi Utsugi (Seattle Reign FC), Shiori Miyake (Nippon TV Beleza), Aimi Kunitake (Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara), Nana Ichise (Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies).
Midfielders: Emi Nakajima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Moeno Sakaguchi (Albirex Niigata Ladies), Hikaru Naomoto (SC Freiburg), Rika Masuya (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Rin Sumida (Nippon TV Beleza), Yuka Momiki (Nippon TV Beleza), Yui Hasegawa (Nippon TV Beleza), Narumi Miura (Nippon TV Beleza).
Forwards: Nahomi Kawasumi (Seattle Reign FC), Yuika Sugasawa (Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies), Mana Iwabuchi (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Kumi Yokoyama (AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies), Mina Tanaka (Nippon TV Beleza).