US women's soccer team returning to Bay Area

SAN JOSE - The U.S. women’s soccer team, the two-time defending world champions, will play host to Brazil on April 14 in San Jose as a tuneup for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

It will be the Americans’ sixth consecutive year playing in the South Bay, with all the games at Earthquakes Stadium except last year, when the team defeated South Africa at Levi’s Stadium before the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

The United States will face a Brazilian team that was eliminated in the World Cup round of 16 by France. Pia Sundhage of Sweden has taken over the program that once was one of the world’s best.

Sundhage won Olympic gold medals as coach of the United States in 2008 and 2012 and a silver medal with Sweden in 2016, the year the Swedes stunned the Americans with an upset in the quarterfinals.

The United States last played Brazil in March of 2019, scoring a 1-0 victory in the SheBelieves Cup in Tampa, Florida.

New U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski saw the women outscore opponents 25-0 in sweeping the Olympic qualifying tournament in the North American, Central American and Caribbean region known as CONCACAF that ended Sunday in Carson.

He relied mostly on World Cup veterans, such as 2019 player of the year Megan Rapinoe of Redding, to get to Tokyo. But Andonovski could begin grooming a new generation of players the rest of the year, starting with the SheBelieves Cup next month against world powers England, Spain and Japan.

With Olympic rosters limited to 18 players - five fewer than World Cup teams - competition to reach Tokyo will be fierce this spring.

Former Cal star Alex Morgan is expecting her first child in April and will have an uphill road to return in time for the Olympics. But the U.S. roster has a strong list of Bay Area players: Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press and Andi Sullivan of Stanford, Julie Ertz of Santa Clara University and Abby Dahlkemper of Menlo Park.

Andonovski also will be auditioning such potential future stars as Stanford alumnus Alana Cook, Tierna Davidson and Sophia Smith, who in December led the Cardinal to the NCAA championship.

The USA has participated in all six Olympics for women’s soccer, winning gold medals in 1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012 and finishing second in 2000. The United States hopes to become the first country to win the Olympic gold medal a year after winning the World Cup.

The women haven’t lost on home soil in 45 games, going 40-0-5. Their last home defeat was in 2017 against Australia.

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