U.S. women face new-look Japan in Rio warmups

The NWSL is off this week as the USA plays Japan twice, the last chance for players to impress Jill Ellis before she names her 18-player squad for the Rio Olympics. Their first meeting since the 2015 Women's World Cup final won by the USA will take place Thursday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. Japan won't be going to the Olympics as it failed to qualify, costing Coach Norio Sasaki his job.

There have been lots of changes on both teams in the year since the USA's 5-2 win.

Of the 14 U.S. players who played in the final, Lauren Holiday and Abby Wambach retired, hat-trick hero Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe are injured and not with the USA, and Christie Rampone took her name out of consideration for the current camp. Four reserves have either retired or gone on maternity leave.

The changes are even more dramatic for Japan, which will be without half the players who faced the USA: Ayumi Kaihori, Azusa Iwashimizu, Aya Sameshima, Aya Miyama, Nahomi Kawasumi, Shinobu Ohno and longtime star Homare Sawa, who retired.

Sasaki, who led Japan to the 2011 Women's World Cup title, was replaced by Asako Takakura, the first female coach of Japan's senior national team. She led Japan to the 2014 Under-17 Women's World Cup title and will coach Japan in this year's U-20 Women's World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

Takakura has kept only 10 players who were on their Olympic qualifying roster, but she still has plenty of talent to work with. Japan will be led by Saki Kumagai, who was instrumental in Lyon winning the 2016 UEFA Women's Champions League title.

USA Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (4): 24-Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), 18-Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), 21-Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), 1- Hope Solo (Seattle Reign)
DEFENDERS (9): 6-Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), 19-Jaelene Hinkle (WNY Flash), 8-Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), 7-Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns), 11-Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), 26-Gina Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/GER), 5-Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), 6- Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 14-Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), 20-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), 25-Rose Lavelle (Univ. of Wisconsin), 23-Allie Long (Portland Thorns), 3-Samantha Mewis (WNY Flash), 9- Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): 16-Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), 12-Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars); 2-Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado).

Japan Roster:
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 (Lyon/FRA), 5-Yuri Kawamura (Vegalta Sendai Ladies), 6-Rumi Utsugi (Montpellier/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 FC Kunoichi)
FORWARDS (4): 9-Yuki Ogimi (FFC Frankfurt/GER), 11-Yuika Sugasawa (JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies), 16-Mana Iwabuchi (Bayern Munich/GER), 20-Kumi Yokoyama (AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies).
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