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Quote Sheet: U.S. Head Coach and Players Discuss the Win vs. Japan


U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage:
On the match:
“I am very happy about our performance today against a very technical, talented Japan team. Besides a great goal by Carli Lloyd, I am very happy about our tactics with a fast player up top, Amy Rodriguez, and the way Heather O’Reilly played on the right side. But the bottom line is that the team that won today.”

“Overall, we had a good game. Personally, I was a little nervous that last five or six minutes. We made some decisions on subs. Should we take out A-Rod? Should we take out Stephanie Cox? But we had good timing and that was important for the outcome of the game.”

On starting Amy Rodriguez:
“She had a specific role to get behind the Japanese defense and she played very well, so I thought it was a good move.”

On the team defending:
“Not only the defenders played well, but I thought the whole team did a good job of that and followed the game plan very well.”

On Lloyd’s goal:
“That was music to my ears. She cracked that and it was a great shot. The team gained confidence, all of us did. That fact that a midfielder is scoring goals, that is good for the team.”

On the USA’s center midfield:
“It’s not only Carli Lloyd, it’s Carli with Boxx. I usually mention them in pairs. I think in the future, we could pick one or two players to be stars, but right now it’s about the team. However, Carli is exceptional on the ball and can play (offense and defense), with her left and right foot, she has all the tools. She could be a star of the future.”

On Japan:
“We put a priority of A-Rod getting by the Japanese defense and the same with Heather O’Reilly on the right side. They did a lot for our attacking, but at the same time we were compact in our defending even though Japan played very nice soccer in the attacking third, actually one of the best I’ve seen. However, we stayed compact and they didn’t score a goal.”

On looking forward in the tournament:
“I think the more minutes we get together in the Olympics, the better it is. We have 180 minutes now and get 90 more against New Zealand. So we will improve our game from one game to another.”

On the team play:
“We are aware that we don’t have the goal scorer. That’s why we are not (panicking). We still have created scoring chances and we talk about so much about the center mid. If the center mid with Carli and Boxx are involved in the attack, we will create scoring chances and it is OK to win 1-0.”

On why she started Amy Rodriguez for Natasha Kai:
“The reason for A-Rod instead of Kai was her speed. That was crucial when we looked at the way Japan plays. We talked about playing them both, but if you look at the game today, Angela Hucles, her possession and her game today was good … We didn’t want to play them both at the same time, but that is an option of course, depending on who we play.”

U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd
On her game-winning goal:
“Scoring in a game like this was unbelievable, but I can’t do it without my teammates and coaches. It takes everybody. We’re taking it one step at a time. Coming off the loss against Norway, we’re moving forward and I thought we did some great stuff today.”

“It happened so quickly. It kind of came off of a cross. Amy Rodriguez tried to go for it and it came over her head and my eyes lit up. I was at the top of the box and just made sure I hit a nice smooth stroke.”

On the match:
“Everyone worked so hard today and it’s just a great feeling. We stayed calmed and composed and our defense did amazing. Boxxy anchoring in the middle did fantastic.”

On the match and Japan:
“It was much better and I have a feeling that it was going to be better. We regrouped, we were positive and I felt we did some great stuff. Japan was a very good team. I thought they played very well and it was by far one of the better soccer teams we’ve played this year. I was very impressed.”

On moving forward:
“We got the one goal and we did have some chances and I think as the tournament goes on we are going to finish those chances. I thought everyone that came on the field did a fantastic job and we are all still believing in each other and trying to get it done.”

On the difference from the Norway game:
“Last game being my first Olympics, I was nervous, and I think some of the younger kids were as well. This game I just relaxed and tried to have fun. I think that was the biggest difference. Right from the locker room, something was different form last game. We were confident that we could get it done.”

On the feeling after the Norway game:
“It was pretty upsetting. It was one of those days. It wasn’t one particular thing. There were a lot of things that were off. Two goals being scored in the first few minutes, our starting defender out, and it was our first game playing without Abby. I think the more minutes we get, and the more we play together, the more we can get done.”

U.S. forward Amy Rodriguez
On just getting one goal despite many chances:
“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get more goals today. We had a lot of chances and just couldn’t get another, but hopefully next game our finishing will be a little sharper and we can get a few more.”

On her first Olympic start:
“I was really excited. I wasn’t expecting to the start the game. When Pia told me, it was a cool feeling. I knew Japan was a good team, so it was going to be challenging, but I had fun out there today.”

On dealing with the pressure of the Olympics and a must-win game:
“When it comes to game time, I know how to calm myself and I don’t let the pressure get to me too much…I just kind of block that out and play my game.”

On having three good chances that she did not put away:
“It’s always frustrating as a forward to have opportunities and not capitalize on them. For me, I just never let myself get down. I know in the past I have gotten down on myself and that doesn’t work for me anymore. For me, I just want to stay positive and keep at it and I’m just happy we got the win today.”

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo
On the match:
“That’s the team I know and love. We finally showed how we can play, and move the ball, and play through Carli and Boxxy. It felt great out there. The energy in the locker room was different. In the first game, you could feel the nerves. This game was different. We were laughing in the locker room, it was much looser.”

On coming back from the Norway loss:
“It stung. It stung deep, that loss. I remember the clock was winding down and I honestly felt sick to my stomach. But Pia told us, if you guys are struggling, look at me and my body language and I will lead you through this. So, she sent the tone right away that we better keep our heads up because we still have two games to play. It’s about getting six points and moving on.”

On Carli Lloyd:
“She’s been waiting for that breakthrough game. She’s had it here and there in smaller tournaments. I got the chills when I saw that goal. She’s a true leader on this team. It’s not just offensive, not just her shot or set pieces, her defense too.”

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