The United States women's soccer team is set to square off against Japan's team this upcoming Monday at the Orjans Vall Stadium in Halmstad, Sweden.
At the Swedish Invitational, the US women will be in a tournament going up against Sweden and Japan. The top three finishers in the 2011 Women's Cup will be competing once again.
Japan's women's soccer team is the biggest concern for the US going into this tournament since they defeated the US in 2011 during the final round of the World Cup.
Since then, the American and Japanese teams have faced off twice with Japan claiming the first victory, and the second match ending in a tie.
For both the US and Japan, though, this upcoming match goes above and beyond simply trying to determine who is better.
It will help set the stage for the upcoming Olympics. With the USA and Japan being two of the top teams in the world, we could easily be looking at a preview of what will happen in London.
Where: Orjans Vall Staium, Halmstad,Sweden
When: Monday, June 18, 10 a.m. ET (Live at 7 a.m. ET)
Live Stream: Universal Sports
What This Means For US
Lost to Japan 1-0 in World Cup finals
Lost to Japan 1-0 in March 2012
Tied Japan 1-1 in April 2012
The US definitely has the most riding on their shoulders going into this match. They were able to seemingly crush Sweden's team the last time they played, winning 4-0, but they still seem to struggle against Japan. Japan will more than likely be their toughest challenge when the Olympics begin and a victory on Monday could prove that the US is ready to take the gold.
What This Means For Japan
US was 22-0-3 before Japan beat them in the World Cup finals
Denied US a third title win by coming from behind twice in the World Cup finals
Recent victories over the US prove that JFA women's team is prepared to defend their title. Going into the World Cup last year, no one expected that Japan would come out on top. With their win at the World Cup however, Japan went being pushovers to rivals. Like the US, this match will set the stage for the upcoming Olympics. Japan will try and prove that they belong at the top.
The US May Have a Trick Up Their Sleeve
The US team has made some changes since they faced Japan in the World Cup. One of the biggest changes is the addition of a new offensive threat, Alex Morgan. After serving as a substitute in 2011, Morgan has begun to get more playing time in 2012. When compared to another big offensive player, Abby Wambach, Morgan has had 14 goals in 12 games compared to Wambach's 10. She adds an element of explosiveness that will help the US team on Monday.
Japan Is Dominant
While the US might be adding a new weapon to their offense, let’s not forget that the JFA has Homare Sawa, who was the leading scorer at the World Cup, and also world women's player of the year in 2011. The JFA also have a much stronger focus on ball control and short passing. How they trained compared to the US team is also different, and could easily be the reason for their recent victories over the US. Japan moves the ball, and also possesses it so well that it is hard to defend against them.
It's tough to say who will come out with the win in this one. The last three times these teams played, for example, were so close that it could really go either way.
Japan may have beaten the US, but it was only by a point. Let's not forget that they tied back in April.
With the addition of Alex Morgan, you could say that the US should be able to pull off the win. The problem is figuring out how well she will do against Japan. Yes, Morgan might be a powerhouse on the field, but will she be able to score on the JFA team?
Japan on the other hand has Homare Sawa, who we know is a threat. With the ball control skills that they have it will take the US a lot more than just Alex Morgan if they want to beat the reigning World Cup champs.
Japan wins it 1-0 like they did back in March.