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Quotes from U.S. WNT 2-1 Victory against Japan in Algarve Opener

Post-Match Quote Sheet
U.S. Women’s National Team 2, Japan 1
Algarve Cup
March 2, 2011  

On the match:
“It was a good start. The first 45 minutes we played some good soccer, 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.”

On the USA playing some good attacking soccer:
“In China, we struggled a little bit and were dispossessed too easy and too often, but now we found the rhythm a little bit. When Heather O’Reilly plays the way she played today it’s easy to find her in the attacking third, and I thought we looked pretty good today.”

On dealing with the skillful possession of Japan:
“Sometimes we shouldn’t allow that and be more aggressive and go harder for the second balls and with more high pressure, and sometimes we need to let them play in front of us. So it’s a balance to control the game with good defense in two different ways, and at times we did that well, but could be a little more aggressive up top.”

On facing a talented Japanese side:
“Japan’s a tough team to play against because they are so technical on the ball and they just ping it around so quickly and create chances from it, but I thought defensively we did a good job of dealing with the pressure and especially at the end of the game, dealing with the numbers that they were sending through. I think we looked good back there. It’s a good start and we can only build from there and get better.”

On her big save on Yugi Nagasato in the 17th minute:
“They just kind of got in behind us. She served a pretty early cross and found the player open probably about 12 yards out and she just hit a rocket off a first-time volley. Luckily I was able to get my feet kind of set and go back the other direction and just get my hands on it and get enough on it to get it off the post and keep it out of the goal.”

U.S. midfielder MEGAN RAPINOE
On facing Japan, the fifth ranked team in the world:
“Japan is always fun to play against. They play really good soccer, kind of like no nonsense, no flopping around or anything like that. We played well, they played well and there were some really good goals. Overall, I had fun playing in the first half and I had fun watching the second half.”

On her goal:
“It got switched out to Heather O’Reilly’s side, and it was weird because she had been hitting some to the back post, so for a second I thought maybe I should have stayed at the back post but I was like ‘I’m just getting in the box.’ I made a run kind of right behind Cheney, but she went more to the front post and Heather just slotted a beautiful ball back in between the six and the penalty spot and I just pushed it right in.”

On the USA’s attacking rhythm:
“We’ve been working really hard on keeping the ball and being patient and getting our outside back involved, and really getting everyone involved if we can. Christie Rampone made a few runs forward, which is awesome. But we really want to try to keep the ball and be patient enough so when those dangerous times to come it’s unpredictable and I think we did a pretty good job of that today.”

U.S. midfielder HEATHER O’REILLY
On the match and her performance:
“I think as an outside midfielder some games you see the ball a lot and some games you don’t. This was just one of those games where I was able to find a lot of space and did a lot of work up the right hand side, especially because their outside midfielder on that side, Aya Miyama, a great player who played in the WPS, really gets involved a lot in the midfield. So I was able to find the ball a lot and I was really happy about the second goal that I was able to get to the end line and find Megan Rapinoe on a great finish. So all in all we’re happy about the win and about the growth of our team.”

U.S. defender ALI KRIEGER
On her getting forward multiple times down the right side:
“I think that was one of our objectives, especially for the right side me and [Heather O’Reilly], to see how many times we can get forward into the attack and how many crosses we can get off. I definitely think we can improve, especially on my crosses, but I think we did really well starting off right from the beginning.”

On the problems Japan poses to a defense:
“They are really fast and really technical so you have to be careful. They love to run in behind and play quick touches around you and you have to be constantly looking and be prepared and just stay organized. The communication was key today because you had to keep your head on a swivel and keep the back side protected.”

On how to deal with the Japanese attack:
“Lots of patience. The Japanese are very technical so the back line did a very good job of holding the line and staying compact so they couldn’t dink the ball through and we caught them offside a lot. The good starting positions (of the backs) also helped us get into the attack today. We did really well offensively and our outside backs got forward a lot, so good defensive pressure turned into a good offensive day for us.”