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U.S. women’s national team returns for Tournament of Nations doubleheader

United State national team soccer returns to Rentschler Field in East Hartford when the U.S. women’s national team hosts two games in the Tournament of Nations tournament on July 29.

U.S. Soccer will host two games in the Tournament of Nations women’s soccer tournament at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Sunday, July 29.

The 2015 World Cup champion United States will face Australia at 7 p.m. with Japan and Brazil playing first at 4:15 p.m. The games in East Hartford will be the second day of a three-day event.

The tournament begins on July 26 with two games in Kansas City and concludes with a pair of contests in Bridgeview, Illinois.

Australia, Brazil and Japan have all recently qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France through their confederation tournaments in April. The Americans will play for a World Cup berth when they host the 2018 CONCACAF women’s championship in October.

“Hosting world class teams in the Tournament of Nations is exactly what we need to test ourselves and to compete to get on the top of a podium,” U.S. national team coach Jill Ellis. “Friendlies are important, but there’s nothing like the competitive format these tournaments provide us. Australia, Brazil and Japan are three very different teams that challenge us with their respective styles and personnel and it will be another fantastic tournament for our fans to watch.”

The Americans (5-0-1 in 2018) are ranked No. 1 in the world in the latest FIFA rankings. Australia is ranked No. 6, Brazil is No. 8 and Japan is ranked No. 11.

For the game in Hartford, tickets are available via phone at 1-877-522-8499 (8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET only) and at the XL Center ticket office starting Monday, June 4 (open Monday-Friday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.). Ticket will be available at the Rentschler Field box office only on game day.

Stratford’s Alyssa Naeher, a goalie on the national team, is the only Connecticut player on the team. She has played in five of six games this year and is 4-0-1 with a 0.60 goals against average.

This will be the second edition of the Tournament of Nations after last year’s competition, which featured the same four teams and was won by Australia. The USA finished second, Japan was third and Brazil fourth.

The winner of the round-robin competition will be based on total points (three for a win, one for a tie), with the first tie-breaker being overall goal difference, followed by most total goals scored, then the head-to-head result and lastly, FIFA ranking, if necessary.

The Americans are 25-1-2 all-time vs. Australia. More recently, the USA played the Matildas in a tightly-contested match at last year’s Tournament of Nations, losing 1-0 to the fast-rising Australians. Despite a furious second-half push, the U.S. women’s national team could not create an equalizer. It was the Australia’s first win against the USA in its history.

Australia made it to the quarterfinal of the 2015 Women’s World Cup before falling 1-0 to Japan, and then made it to the quarterfinal of the 2016 Olympic tournament the following year, but fell to Brazil in a penalty kick shootout that went eight players deep.

Most of these players will be on the world stage next summer in France.

Australia and Japan qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup by finishing first and second, respectively, in Group B at the 2018 AFC Asian Cup in Jordan. The two countries tied 1-1 in group play and both teams won their semifinal matches, Australia over Thailand in penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie in regulation and Japan over China, 3-1, setting up a rematch in the championship game. Japan came out victorious, 1-0, on an 84th minute strike from Kumi Yokoyama.

Brazil qualified by finishing in first place in the final stage of the 2018 Copa América Femenina in Chile. Brazil won all four of its opening-round games by a 22-1 goal margin to advance to the four-team final stage where it beat Chile (3-1), Argentina (3-0) and Colombia (3-0). In front of large home crowds, Chile finished second in the final stage group to also qualify for France, while Argentina finished third and will face the fourth-place finisher from the 2018 CONCACAF women’s championship in a two-game playoff for a final World Cup berth.

U.S. Soccer plans to host the Tournament of Nations every summer during years that do not feature a World Cup or Olympic Games, meaning the next edition would be staged in 2021.

It will be the 11th time that the U.S. women’s national team plays in Connecticut and the seventh time in East Hartford at Rentschler Field. The team played four games at New Britain’s Willow Brook Park from 1991-97. The Americans last played at Rentschler Field in 2016 when they beat Columbia before a state-record crowd of 21,792.

2018 Tournament of Nations
Thursday, July 26
At Kansas City
Brazil vs. Australia, 4:15 p.m.
United States vs. Japan, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Sunday, July 29
At East Hartford
Japan vs. Brazil, 4:15 p.m.
United States vs. Australia, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Tuesday, August 2
At Bridgeview, Illinois
Australia vs. Japan, 5:45 p.m.
United States vs. Brazil, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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