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Women’s World Cup warm-up matches set

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will play a pair of domestic matches in May to prepare for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, facing Japan on May 14 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, and on May 18 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.

The match at Columbus Crew Stadium will kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET and be broadcast live exclusively on Fox Soccer. The second leg in Cary kicks off at 7 p.m. ET and will air live on ESPN2.

“Our entire team and staff have great sympathy for the people of Japan following the tragedies that struck their country and we are looking forward to hosting the team here in the United States,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “We have tremendous respect for the Japanese players, for the way they play the game and for the heart they show on the field, and we will be expecting two excellent matches.”

For the game in Cary, tickets go on sale to the general public Tuesday, March 22, at 10 a.m. ET through and by phone at 1-800-745-3000. (Note: tickets will only be sold at the WakeMed Soccer Park ticket office on the day of the game.) For the match in Columbus, tickets go on sale to the general public the following Tuesday, March 29, at 10 a.m. ET through, by calling 1-800-745-3000, at all central Ohio Ticketmaster ticket centers (including Kroger stores) and the Crew Stadium ticket office (open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.). Groups of 20 or more can obtain an order form for either game at or by calling 312-528-1290.

Following the matches against Japan, the U.S. women will have one more domestic friendly before departing for a pre-Women’s World Cup training camp in Austria in mid-June. That game will be on June 5 with an opponent and venue still to be confirmed.

The USA will be playing Japan for the second and third times in 2011 after having defeated the perennial Asian power 2-1 on March 2 in the opening game of the Algarve Cup on goals from Amy Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe.

The U.S. women have a rich history at Columbus Crew Stadium, having played there four times in front of some large crowds. Those games included a victory celebration match following the triumph at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup that came just five months after the stadium opened, and a group game at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a 3-0 victory against Korea DPR. Still, the USA has not played at Crew Stadium in almost eight years.

The USA has also played four times at WakeMed Soccer Park, the most recent coming in 2008 in a 3-2 victory against Australia. U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd scored a dramatic 91st minute game-winner against the Matildas that night.

“Games against the top teams in the world are very important to our World Cup preparation and we need to play teams that will be in Germany,” said Sundhage. “We enjoy the unique challenges of playing Japan as they can put pressure on us defensively and provide problems for our players to solve in the attack. Our match at the Algarve Cup pushed our team to get better as the Japanese have some of the most technical and quick players in the world. After a lot of travel this year, I also know the players are very much looking forward to playing in front of the American fans so that will be fun as well.”

Japan qualified for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup by winning the third place match at the 2010 Asian Women’s Championships 2-0 against China. Japan, which has qualified for every FIFA Women’s World Cup, is playing in Group B in Germany along with New Zealand, Mexico and England.

The U.S. women have a record of 6-1-0 so far in 2011, having won two tournament titles with championships at the Four Nations in China in January and the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March.

The USA is riding a 49-game unbeaten streak at home, compiling a record of 44-0-5 during that time.

(via release)

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