The United States women's national team open their 2018 Tournament of Nations against Japan at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City on Thursday, hopeful they can go one better than last year's runner-up finish to Australia.
Brazil will be the other entrant in this year's American-hosted invitational as the same four teams return to the field, with the Selecao and Japan having failed to clinch a victory in last year's competition.
The Stars and Stripes beat Asako Takakura's side 3-0 when they met in the 2017 competition, but Japan clinched a 3-3 draw in Denver, Colorado, one year prior to that and will hope for a battle as competitive this time around.
Jill Ellis has coached the United States to a 16-match unbeaten streak, winning 14 of those matchups, but a triumph in the Tournament of Nations would be a welcome boost in the build-up to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
We take a look at the United States' opening fixture of the 2018 Tournament of Nations, complete with live-stream information and a match preview.
Date: Thursday, July 26
Time: 7 p.m. ET/12 a.m. BST (Fri., July 27)
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City
TV Info: Fox Sports 1 (U.S.)
The United States lost last year's competition after suffering defeat to champions Australia in their opener and will be on guard 12 months on.
Ellis has retained the bulk of her seasoned stars for the competition and has seven players boasting a century of caps or more, per writer Caitlin Murray:
Defender Jaelene Hinkle plays for North Carolina Courage and has eight caps to her name, while Kealia Ohai has made three appearances for the Stars and Stripes but is already causing waves at club level.
Ohai has been destined for big things since the beginning of her National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) career:
The United States' forward line in particular is loaded with experience—Crystal Dunn (65 caps) is the only one of six attackers named by Ellis with fewer than 100 appearances for the national team.
But Japan's attack houses the majority of their more experienced faces, too, and the American squad will recognise Seattle Reign FC striker Nahomi Kawasumi, the highest scorer in Takakura's squad with 20 goals to her name.
The Asian representatives are seven matches unbeaten themselves and have won their last three games in succession, the most recent of those being wins over Oceanic rivals Australia and New Zealand.
One figure the Japanese are sure to recognise is Carli Lloyd, whose 13-minute hat-trick helped her side seal a 5-2 win over them in the final of the 2015 Women's World Cup, with one of the strikes receiving a Puskas award nomination, via FIFA TV:
Victory in their Kansas City opener will put a spring in the step of a United States team that sits top of the FIFA rankings and is under pressure to retain their title in France next summer.
Prediction: USA 3-1 Japan