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Megan Rapinoe

U.S. Women Defeat Japan 2-1 to Open 2011 Algarve Cup in Portugal

  • USA Gets First Half Goals from Amy Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe 
  • Wambach Comes Off Bench to Get First Minutes of 2011 
  • Follow USA-Norway in Friday, March 4, in Second Group B Match on’s MatchTracker at 10 a.m. ET
VILA REAL de SAN ANTONIO, Portugal (March 2, 2011) – The U.S. Women’s National Team put together an excellent all-around performance to defeat Japan 2-1 in its opening game of the 2011 Algarve Cup.
The USA will now face long-time rival Norway on Friday, March 4, in its second Group A match that kicks off at 10 a.m. ET. Fans can follow the action as it happens on’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.
The USA tallied twice in the first 18 minutes through Amy Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe, while Japan’s Aya Miyama nailed a perfect free kick in the 29th minute to account for the final score line.
It was an entertaining match with both teams focusing quite a bit of energy into attacking, but the U.S. back line ruled the day, allowing just three shots on goal despite some quality Japanese possession.
“It was a good start and in the first 45 minutes we played some very good soccer,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “Heather O’Reilly had a good game, and we looked dangerous at times. We played some good one-touch soccer and got some good rhythm against a very good team in Japan. In the second half, there was a little bit of a difference, and you could see how good they are in keeping possession, but I still felt we controlled the game because of our defense.”
The USA’s first goal came just seven minutes into the game off a free kick from about 15 yards inside the USA’s half after Japan was called offside. U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart sent a driven service to forward Lauren Cheney, who flicked it on with her head to Amy Rodriguez and she collected at the top of the penalty area with her back to the goal. Rodriguez then spun to her right to lose her defender and struck a perfect left-footed shot that beat flying Japanese goalkeeper Miho Fukimoto into the lower right corner. It was the 15th career international goal for Rodriguez.
Japan’s best chance, besides its goal, came in the 17th minute off a quick attack down the right side. Yuki Nagasato made a run right up the middle and powerfully met the cross on the ground to fire a first-time shot that Barnhart pushed spectacularly off the left post. The ball was cleared and the Americans went right back up the field on a blistering counter attack that led to their second goal.
It came after O’Reilly burst past her defender into the right side of the penalty box and cut a cross on the ground to the crashing Rapinoe who did not give Fukimoto time to react, spinning her first-time shot into the net from seven yards out just past the goalkeeper’s feet. It was Rapinoe’s ninth career international goal.
The USA had another early chance in the 13th minute as Fukimoto misplayed a cross from Ali Krieger and Rapinoe was able to dig the ball free from a scrum. The ball bounced to Shannon Boxx who seemed to have an open look at the frame from 14 yards out, but somehow Fukimoto recovered to throw herself in front of the driven shot and bat it away.
Japan, as always, knocked the ball around with pace and accuracy, but had a hard time penetrating the back line anchored by captain Christie Rampone and Rachel Buehler. Meanwhile, the Americans put together attacks with sting, especially down the right side as O’Reilly and Krieger combined with their teammates to create consistent trouble for Japan on that side.
Japan’s lone goal came off a set play in the 29th minute after O'Reilly chopped down Nagasato just outside the penalty area on the left side when the Japanese forward made a nice dribbling run. Miyama, who played for the Los Angeles Sol and the St. Louis Athletica in WPS, hit about as perfect a free kick as you’ll see anywhere in the world, spinning the ball off the crossbar and right post and bouncing it down over the goal line. Barnhart had no chance.
Japanese captain Homare Sawa, who played in the WUSA with Atlanta Beat and in WPS with the Washington Freedom, skimmed a header off the top of the crossbar in the first half off a corner kick, but the USA hit the woodwork twice before the break.
In the 35th minute, Carli Lloyd’s header off a corner kick from Rapinoe smacked squarely off the middle of the bar, and then in the 39th minute Rapinoe herself lifted a shot over Fukimoto from the left side of the penalty area, but it hit the right post and bounced away.
Sundhage sent on Tobin Heath and Abby Wambach at halftime, marking just the sixth time Wambach has come off the bench since the end of the 2004 Olympics. Wambach almost tallied in the 57th minute after O'Reilly burned down the right wing almost all the way to the near post before cutting a ball back to the top of the six-yard box. The ball got caught under Wambach’s feet and she couldn’t get off a dangerous shot, bouncing it wide left.
Japan pushed hard at the end of the game and had the Americans on their heels for about 10 minutes. Sawa had an open look in the left side of the penalty after a cross had rolled through the U.S. box, but Barnhart gobbled up the shot at the near post. Barnhart did well with her starting position during the match, coming off her line and out of the penalty box on several occasions to clear balls at of danger as the USA held a high back line that caught Japan offside 10 times. Barnhart also did well to grab Japan’s final free kick that was lofted into the penalty box in stoppage time.
During the last five minutes and stoppage time, the USA was able to settle back down and did well to control the ball, and the game, before the final whistle blew.
The USA is preparing for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will take place from June 26-July 17 in nine venues across Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach, Sinsheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden and Leverkusen.
The 16 nations competing are: host Germany, Korea DPR, Japan and Australia from Asia and Sweden, Norway, France and England from Europe, New Zealand from Oceania, the USA, Canada and Mexico from CONCACAF, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea from Africa and Brazil and Colombia from South America. 
-- U.S. Women's National Team Game Report --
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Japan
Date: March 2, 2011
Competition: 2011 Algarve Cup
Venue: Municipal Stadium; Vila Real de San Antonio, Portugal
Kickoff: 3 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET
Attendance: 350
Weather: Sunny, breezy, scattered clouds – 55 degrees

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                     2 0 2
JPN                      1 0 1

USA – Amy Rodriguez (Lauren Cheney) 7th minute
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Heather O’Reilly) 18
JPN – Aya Miyama 29

USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 11-Ali Krieger, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Rachel Buehler, 14-Stephanie Cox; 9-Heather O’Reilly, 7-Shannon Boxx (16-Lori Lindsey, 71), 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe (11-Tobin Heath, 46); 12-Lauren Cheney (20-Abby Wambach, 46), 8-Amy Rodriguez (13-Alex Morgan, 63)
Subs not used: 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 21-Kelley O’Hara, 22-Becky Sauerbrunn, 24-Ashlyn Harris, 25-Whitney Engen
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

JPN: 12-Miho Fukimoto; 2-Yukari Kinga, 3-Azusa Iwashimizu, 4-Saki Kumagai, 5-Kyoko Yano (15-Aya Sameshima, 44); 10-Homare Sawa (capt.), 8-Aya Miyama, 16-Rumi Utsugi (6-Mizuho Sakaguchi, 79), 7-Kozue Ando (13-Eriko Arakawa, 56); 9-Shinobu Ohno 20-Nahomi Kawasumi, 76), 11-Yuki Nagasato (19-Megumi Takase, 76)
Subs not used: 17-Megumi Kamionobe, 18-Mami Yamaguchi, 21-Ayumi Kaihori, 22-Asuna Tanaka
Head Coach: Norio Sasaki

Statistical Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 16 / 6
Shots on Goal: 7 / 3
Saves: 2 / 5
Corner Kicks: 2 / 3
Fouls: 7 / 5
Offside: 5 / 10

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Rachel Buehler (caution)      84th minute

Referee: Dagmar Damkova (CZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Yolanda Parga Rodriguez (SPN)
Assistant Referee 2: Maria Luisa Villa Gutierrez (SPN)
Fourth Official: Alexandra Ihringova (ENG)

Bud Light Woman of the Match: Heather O’Reilly