U.S. WNT Advances to Olympic Semifinals With 2-1 Victory Over Japan, Will Face Germany on Monday
THESSALONIKI, Greece (Aug. 20, 2004) - The U.S. Women’s National Team put together perhaps their best match of the 2004 Olympics today, earning a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Japan behind goals from Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach.
Aug. 20, 2004
With the win, the U.S. advances to meet 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Germany in the semifinal on Monday, August 23, in match that will be televised live on MSNBC and Telemundo at 6 p.m. (local) / 11 a.m. ET.
In their quarterfinal match, Germany came back from a 1-0 deficit to score twice in the final 20 minutes, including the game-winner in the 81st minute, and beat Nigeria 2-1. In the other quarterfinal matches, Brazil hammered Mexico, 5-0, while Sweden downed Australia, 2-1. Sweden will meet Brazil in the other semifinal on Aug. 23 in Patra at 9 p.m. (local) / 2 p.m. ET in a rematch of the 2003 Women’s World Cup quarterfinal won by Sweden.
U.S. head coach April Heinrichs made four changes from the lineup that faced Australia in the USA’s final group match, inserting Brandi Chastain (who saw her first action of the tournament) at left back and moving Kate Markgraf into the middle of the defense with Joy Fawcett. Christie Rampone returned to her right back spot, while 20-year-old midfielder Lindsay Tarpley got her first start of the tournament. Wambach returned from suspension to start alongside Hamm and Lilly up top in an attacking-minded 4-3-3 formation and the trio put pressure on the Japanese back line for the entire match.
The USA played with a sharpness and rhythm seen only in spurts during the first three matches and were dominant on air balls, as well as pressuring the skillful Japanese in the midfield, limiting their time and space to create. The match was played in front of a crowd of only 1,418, but the vocal, drum-beating fans from both countries created some exciting atmosphere in the large stadium.
The U.S. played with confidence and crispness over the first half hour, but neither team could produce any dangerous chances in the early going. Japan began to find their rhythm as the half wore on, but only registered one shot in the first half, a long attempt from midfielder Homare Sawa that U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry easily saved in the 17th minute.
The U.S. didn’t have its first shot on goal until the 39th minute, when a Tarpley cross from the left found Wambach in the middle of the box with a defender on her back. The 5-11 forward was able to snap a header on goal, but Japanese goalkeeper Nozomi Yamago dove to save the ball at the left post.
The USA got a huge goal just two minutes before halftime thanks to a never-say-die dribbling run from Lilly. She won the ball outside the penalty area on the left side and sprinted into the box, where she pushed through a tackle from a Japanese defender. The ball popped up in the air and Japan’s Homare Sawa came flying back toward her own goal trying to clear the ball, but kicked it straight up in the air. Tarpley kept the ball alive by challenging in the air with Yamago about 10 yards from the goal, and when the ball hit the ground, Lilly struck a half volley with her right foot just inside the left post. It was Lilly’s second goal in as many games and the 97th of her career.
Japan wasted no time getting an equalizer, answering back just three minutes after the break. On a bit of a fluke goal, Emi Yamamoto sent in a free kick from the right side that flew past the diving Sawa and a lunging Rampone and skipped into the left side of the net to make it 1-1.
In the 52nd minute, the U.S. almost went ahead when Yamago gave up a rebound off a long, driven shot from Wambach and the ball squirted out in front of the Japanese ‘keeper. Hamm quickly pounced on the loose ball and tried to dribble around Yamago, but could only muster a cross that tantalizingly rolled through the penalty area before being cleared.
The U.S. grabbed the lead back in the 58th minute on one of the most unusual goals of the tournament as the USA beat a Japan offside trap from a free kick by Hamm. As the ball was sent into the Japanese penalty area, the defensive line rushed forward, but the Americans had players coming from behind and four U.S. attackers raced in all alone on Yamago. The ball fell to midfielder Shannon Boxx, who collected the ball smoothly and had almost too much time as she dribbled toward Yamago, who cut off her angle. Boxx unselfishly laid the ball back to Wambach, who took a touch and practically walked the ball over the goal line. It was Wambach’s team-leading third goal of the tournament and 31st of her career.
In the 65th minute, Hamm broke free for a moment in the right side of the penalty area after a great U.S. build-up, but with a player hanging all over her, she couldn’t get enough pace on her shot and it went right into the hands of Yamago.
Hamm got Lilly and Wambach into dangerous positions with her passing in the latter part of the match, but both were shutdown by Japanese defenders before they could unleash shots.
The U.S. survived a scare in the 69th minute when they couldn’t clear a loose ball in a crowded penalty area after several attempts. The ball was played back to the top of the box to second-half sub Miyuki Yanagita, who fired a low shot wide left of the goal.
Tarpley had a good chance in the 76th minute, but her soft shot was right at Yamago. U.S. captain Julie Foudy almost delivered a huge insurance goal in the 78th minute, but her header back across the goal from a corner kick was cleared off the line by Yanagita.
The U.S. escaped one final flurry in the penalty area in the 90th minute, as a corner kick eluded Scurry and bounced around in the box, with a pair of shots being blocked before the ball was cleared.
Heinrichs made no subs in the match, going with the same 11 for the entire 90 minutes. Tarpley played an inspired match in the midfield for the USA, while all the American midfielders put in a hard night of running. The U.S. back line of Rampone, Joy Fawcett, Markgraf and Chastain also did extremely well to keep the crafty Japanese in front of them for the entire game. Japan took just seven shots during the match, with just three on goal, and one started as a cross off the free kick that found its way into the net.
The USA-Germany semifinal sets up a dramatic rematch of the 2003 Women’s World Cup semifinal when Germany downed the USA, 3-0, at PGE Park in Portland, Ore., scoring twice in stoppage time of the second half to make the final margin. The U.S. team will travel tomorrow to Heraklio on the island of Crete, site of their opening match against Greece back on Aug. 11.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Japan
Competition: 2004 Olympics – Quarterfinal
Venue: Kaftanzolglio Stadium; Thessaloniki, Greece
Date: August 20, 2004; Kickoff – 6 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET
Weather: Sunny, blazing hot 93 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
JPN 0 1 1
USA – Kristine Lilly (unassisted) 43rd minute.
JAP – Emi Yamamoto (unassisted) 48th
USA – Abby Wambach (Shannon Boxx) 58th
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 3-Christie Rampone, 15-Kate Markgraf, 14-Joy Fawcett, 6-Brandi Chastain; 7-Shannon Boxx, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 11-Julie Foudy (Capt.); 13-Kristine Lilly, 20-Abby Wambach, 9-Mia Hamm.
Subs Not Used: 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Reddick, 8-Angela Hucles, 10-Aly Wagner, 12-Cindy Parlow, 17-Heather O’Reilly, 18-Kristin Luckenbill.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs.
JPN: 1-Nozomi Yamago; 2-Yano Kyoko (12-Yasuyo Yamagishi, 46), 3-Hiromi Isozaki (Capt.), 5-Naoko Kawakami (14-Karina Maruyama, 77), 13-Aya Shimokozuru; 6-Tomoe Sakai, 8-Tomomi Miyamoto, 7-Emi Yamamoto (15-Miyuki Yangita, 68); 9-Eriko Arakawa, 10-Homare Sawa, 11-Mio Otani.
Subs Not Used: 4-Yumi Obe, 16-Yayoi Kobayashi, 17-Kozue Ando, 18-Shiho Onodera.
Head Coach: Eiji Ueda.
Shots: 12 7
Shots on Goal: 7 3
Saves: 1 5
Corner Kicks: 4 6
Fouls: 19 4
Offside: 0 1
USA – Kristine Lilly (caution) 46th minute +.
USA – Mia Hamm (caution) 86th
Referee: Silvia de Oliveira (Brazil)
Asst. Referee #1: Ana da Silva Oliveira (Brazil)
Asst. Referee #2: Aracely Castro (Bolivia)
4th Official: Diana Krystyna Szokolai (Australia)
Germany 2, Nigeria 1
USA 2, Japan 1
Brazil 5, Mexico 0
Sweden 2, Australia 1
Aug. 23 Venue
USA vs. Germany Heraklio
Sweden vs. Brazil Patra