Soccer: Japan to face United States in Sept. friendly in Europe

© Kyodo News

Japan will face fellow World Cup qualifiers the United States in one of two September friendlies in Europe, the Japan Football Association said Tuesday.

Japan, 23rd in the FIFA rankings, will take on the 15th-ranked United States on Sept. 23. The Americans have qualified for the World Cup in Qatar starting in November after placing third in the North and Central America and Caribbean region.

"They'll come out fighting with high motivation. We are grateful we can play them," Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu said of the United States, who have Europe-based stars including Chelsea attacker Christian Pulisic.

Japan and the United States each have one win from their past two meetings.

Moriyasu also said his domestic-based squad for the East Asian Football Federation E-1 Championship in July will not include players with previous World Cup experience.

FC Tokyo full-back Yuto Nagatomo, Urawa Reds defender Hiroki Sakai and Vissel Kobe forward Yuya Osako are all set to be exempted from the tournament in Japan with the manager hinting at calling up under-21 national team members for this particular occasion.

"They'll be players who have the chance of making the World Cup squad and are playing in the J-League first division," he said.