Unlike in the World Cup final, the United States women's national team got off to a rough start against Japan on Thursday. Since last summer, Japan hired a new coach and ushered in a wave of young players. Despite the personnel changes, the Nadeshiko displayed its trademark technical ability and patience. Japan's high pressure in the first half strangled any hope of a sustained USWNT attack and resulted in the team conceding two goals in the second half.
The USWNT rebounded in the second half and scored three goals, including an 89th-minute header from Lindsey Horan to put the US ahead 3-2. Yet Japan came back as well, despite having played short-handed from the 57th minute onward due to a red card given to Yuki Ogimi. In the 93rd minute, the Nadeshiko scored an amazing team goal that left the US defense looking like mere cones.
Going into Sunday's match head coach Jill Ellis has two main options: she can keep a similar roster and hope Japan is fatigued from a shorthanded performance three days earlier or use the opportunity to evaluate bench players against a high-quality opponent.
Location: FirstEnergy Field (Cleveland, Ohio)
Kick-off time: 12:30pm Eastern
Available TV: ESPN2
Available streaming: WatchESPN
Treat this as the gamethread for tonight's match.