• Kyodo News

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Veteran Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa has left NTV Beleza to join the Washington Freedom in the U.S. Women’s Professional Soccer league, Beleza announced Friday.

The 30-year-old Sawa, who helped Japan to a fourth-place finish at last summer’s Beijing Olympics, heads for a second stint in the U.S. after the Freedom named her in the first round of September’s international draft.

“There was a period where I thought I should stay with NTV to generate excitement in Japanese women’s soccer but I want to keep aiming high for the rest of my career,” Sawa said through Beleza.

Sawa played for the Atlanta Beat in 2000-2003 in the Women’s United Soccer Association, the former women’s pro soccer league in the United States that was forced to disband in 2003.

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