The United States and Japan conclude a back-to-back pair of matches at noon today (June 5) in Cleveland. The game is on ESPN2.
On Thursday in Denver, the rivals played to a 3-3 draw. It was an energetic, entertaining game filled with twists and momentum swings: Japan pulled out to a 2-0 lead, then the United States pulled even on two goals by Alex Morgan. Japan’s captain, Yuki Ogimi, was sent off on two yellow cards, leaving her team to contend with the world’s best squad while down a player for the last 33 minutes. Lindsey Horan seemed to secure a come-from-behind victory with her goal in the 89th minute. But her heroics were eclipsed minutes later by Kumi Yokoyama, who hit the equalizer in stoppage time.
Fans certainly got their money’s worth.
Here are five oddities, curiosities, or (possibly) interesting facts about the games and their participants:
The American women have been playing Japan almost as long as they’ve been playing international soccer. The first meeting between the two teams occurred on July 25, 1986, at a six-nation tournament in Jesolo, Italy. (The United States won 3-1.)
That was just 11 months after the newly formed U.S. Women’s National Team made its debut.
Japan relies much more on technical skill and finesse than on hard-nosed, physical play, but on Thursday, the team was whistled for 14 fouls, compared with four for the United States. Japanese players saw the yellow card four times; no American was assessed.
Alex Morgan’s two goals put her at 10 for the year, making her the team’s top scorer in 2016. Before Thursday, she was tied with Crystal Dunn and Carli Lloyd at eight.
The game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., was a sellout, with paid attendance of 18,572.
It was the team’s second consecutive sellout; 17,275 fans packed Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa., on April 10 and saw the U.S. women dispatch Colombia 3-0.
Before spraining her knee in April, Carli Lloyd had scored 24 goals in 24 games.