BEIJING (Aug. 18, 2008) – Angela Hucles scored twice and Lori Chalupny and Heather O’Reilly added goals as the U.S. advanced to the gold medal match of the 2008 Olympics with a 4-2 come-from-behind victory against Japan at Beijing’s Workers’ Stadium on Monday.
Since women’s soccer was added to the Olympic program in 1996, the U.S. is the only team that has advanced to all four Olympic Finals, and for the second consecutive Olympics will play Brazil with the gold medal on the line.
“It was not an easy match as I thought Japan played very well, but we were able to come back from 1-0, and it’s due to the entire team,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “We’ve been able to get goals from different players and tonight was no different. I’m very proud of how the team performed tonight and now we can look forward to our next match against Brazil.”
The gold medal match for women’s soccer will be played on Thursday, Aug. 21, and shown live on USA Network and the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel at 9 a.m. ET. Fans can also follow online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
The U.S. was playing Japan for the second time in 10 days after defeating them 1-0 in Group G play in Qinhuangdao on Aug. 9. This time, it was Japan that took a 1-0 lead. Looking dangerous from the start, the Japanese forced Hope Solo to make a save on a header off a corner kick in the fifth minute, and 11 minutes later got the first goal of the game off a corner from the right side. The out-swinger was headed up in the middle of the penalty area and bounced out to the right side for Yukari Kinga, who drove a low ball back into the center. Shinobu Ohno slipped in behind the U.S. defense, which was pulling forward, and was all alone as she settled the ball and drove it under Solo.
But, the U.S. wasn’t without chances early. O’Reilly and Chalupny, both catalysts on the first two U.S. goals, each broke through into the area in the first 15 minutes. O’Reilly was muscled to the ground without a call and Chalupny’s effort went wide.
Solo was again called to action in the 21st minute, diving to her left to palm away a low shot from 19 yards off the foot of Yuki Nagasato.
It was Solo that started the play that created the first U.S. goal in the 41st minute. A long goal kick from the U.S. ‘keeper bounced once before a Japanese defender was forced to play a clearance wide right in the path of O’Reilly. She sprinted to the end line past Kyoko Yano and cut a low cross back to the top of the six yard box, past a sliding Amy Rodriguez and under Lindsay Tarpley’s foot to Hucles, who tapped it into the open goal with her left foot.
Right before halftime the U.S. took the lead for good as Chalupny finished a play that started with some quality possession in the back and a great pass into space from Rodriguez, who was dangerous running at the defense for most of the game. Kate Markgraf started things forward, playing the ball to Carli Lloyd in midfield. She found Rodriguez checking back, and Rodriguez turned and played Chalupny free up the left wing. The U.S. left back cut square into the penalty around a defender and then got a sliver of space to hit a 17-yard rocket into the roof of the net at the upper left corner.
In the second half, except for a stoppage time goal from Japan, it was all USA as the defending gold medalists out-shot Japan 13-6 while adding two more goals.
In the 70th minute, O’Reilly scored her second goal from distance during the Olympics. She received a throw in from Heather Mitts from deep on the right wing, and saw Japanese goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto a bit off her line. She immediately hit a dipping shot with the top of her left foot from well outside the penalty area that dropped into the goal over a helpless Japanese ‘keeper. The assist got Mitts, who along with Chalupny hada good night controlling the flanks both ways, into the scorebook.
Ten minutes later, Hucles scored her second of the game and her team-leading fourth of the Olympics on a shot from a tight angle in the left side of the penalty box. Hucles touched a corner kick to for O’Reilly, who promptly returned the ball. Hucles dribbled along the right edge of the penalty area before sending a cross from just two yards off the endline and one step inside the area that swerved toward the net and over Fukumoto. The assist was O’Reilly’s second of the game and third of the tournament.
To Japan’s credit, they did not quit, and they would add a goal in stoppage time. A cross from the left wing was met by Nagasato who hit the near post with her shot before squaring the rebound for Eriko Arakawa to tap in from three yards out.
But by that time, the crowd of 50,937, the largest crowd to watch the U.S. since a group match vs. China at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, knew the result was going the USA’s way. It was third largest ever to watch the U.S. play outside of the U.S., and the 10th largest crowd of all-time to see the U.S. play.
Brazil advanced to the final with an impressive 4-1 victory against Germany, including two goals by Cristiane who is running away with the Golden Boot award with seven goals so far in the Olympics. Marta has also continued to prove why she’s regarded as one of the world’s top players, having scored four goals – tying her with Hucles as the second-leading scorer in the tournament.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Japan
Competition: 2008 Beijing Olympics - Semifinal
Venue: Worker’s Stadium; Beijing, China
Date: August 18, 2008; Kickoff – 9 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET
Weather: Clear – 77 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 2 4
JPN 1 1 2
JPN – Shinobu Ohno (Yukari Kinga) 16th minute.
USA – Angela Hucles (Heather O’Reilly) 41.
USA – Lori Chalupny (Amy Rodriguez) 44.
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Heather Mitts) 70.
USA – Angela Hucles (Heather O’Reilly) 80.
JPN – Eriko Arakawa (Yuki Nagasato) 94+.
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts (14-Stephanie Cox, 86), 15-Kate Markgraf, 3-Christie Rampone – Capt., 17-Lori Chalupny; 9-Heather O’Reilly, 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Carli Lloyd, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (6-Natasha Kai, 67); 8-Amy Rodriguez (12-Lauren Cheney, 83), 16-Angela Hucles
Subs: 4-Rachel Buehler, 10-Aly Wagner, 13-Tobin Heath, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
JPN: 1-Miho Fukumoto; 2-Yukari Kinga, 3-Hiromi Ikeda, 4-Azusa Iwashimizu, 7-Kozue Ando (13-Ayumi Hara, 56), 14-Kyoko Yano (12-Karina Maruyama, 73); 8-Aya Miyama, 10-Homare Sawa, 15-Mizuho Sakaguchi; 11-Shinobu Ohno (9-Eriko Arakawa, 71), 17-Yuki Nagasato
Subs: 18-Ayumi Kaihori, 16-Rumi Utsugi, 5-Miyuki Yanagita, 6-Tomoe Kato
Head Coach: Norio Sasaki
Statistical Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 18 / 10
Shots on Goal: 10 / 6
Saves: 4 / 6
Corner Kicks: 7 / 4
Fouls: 12 / 5
Offside: 1 / 5
USA – Heather O’Reilly (caution) 39th minute.
USA – Heather Mitts (caution) 50.
Referee: Nicole Petignat (SUI)
Asst. Referee: Cristini Cini (ITA)
Asst. Referee: Karine Vives Solana (FRA)
4th Official: Pannipar Kamnueng (THA)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Angela Hucles