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U.S. WNT and Japan Draw 1-1 at 2014 Algarve Cup Opener


  • Sydney Leroux’s 27th International Goal Comes Off Block of Japan Goalkeeper Clearance
  • USA Out-Shoots Japan 20-8, Japan Captain Aya Miyama Equalizes with Late Free Kick
  • WNT Will Face Sweden on March 7 in Albufeira, Portugal, in Second Group B Match 

PARCHAL, Portugal (March 5, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Team certainly did enough to win, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Japan in the first Group B match for both teams at the 2014 Algarve Cup.

Up next for the USA will be Sweden on March 7 in Albufeira, Portugal (8:30 a.m. ET), in a match that will have major implications for the USA’s Algarve Cup championship game aspirations. The team must win the group to advance to the final. Fans can follow USA-Sweden on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and watch highlights on ussoccer.com.

Despite creating the vast majority of dangerous scoring chances, the USA’s lone goal was a bit quirky, coming in the 59th minute when forward Sydney Leroux slid to block a clearance from Japan goalkeeper Erina Yamane, and the ball bounced back into the open net.

Just moments after Leroux had sprinted down the right wing and passed back to Christen Press, whose shot was saved by Yamane, the Japan goalkeeper received a pass back from her centerback and was just a bit too casual for the speedy Leroux, who sprinted hard at the 21-year-old ‘keeper from her left side and managed to ricochet the attempted clearance into the net from 12 yards out.

While the goal was unusual, the USA certainly deserved it and perhaps a few more. In fact, the U.S. put the ball into the Japan net just 72 seconds into the match, when Leroux’s shot hit a defender and bounced to Carli Lloyd, who finished her volley well from an offside position. Lloyd led a U.S. midfield that won numerous balls in dangerous spots, allowing the American counter-attack to flourish while putting Japan’s back line on their heels for most of the game.

Leroux had a chance off a right-side cross from Ali Krieger in the 12th minute that was going to stick into the upper right corner, but the 6-foot-1 Yamane palmed the shot up into the air, and it was headed off the line by a Japan defender.

In the 22nd minute, Heather O’Reilly darted past a defender into the right side of the penalty box and dribbled almost all the way to the near post, but her cross into a crowded goal mouth was cleared.

Leroux had a multitude of chances in both halves. In the 29th minute, she out-muscled a defender into the right side of the penalty area, but stuck her shot into the side-netting outside the right post. The USA counter-attacked with tremendous speed, creating numerous dangerous situations down the wings and in the 32nd minute, O’Reilly got free down the left, but her cross on the ground just eluded Leroux who was sliding through the goal box.

The Americans were going against the wind in the first half and as soon as they switched sides, the attacked picked up more steam. The USA fired 16 shots after the break to Japan’s three, and just four minutes into the second half, O’Reilly put Press behind the defense with a through ball. Her shot brought a nice save from Yamane, who knocked it away for a corner kick, and Leroux headed the ensuing service on goal, but it was cleared off the line by a defender.

Press played well, holding the ball in the attacking third, but also while running at the Japan back line, and in the 68th minute, she streaked down the left after a long throw-in and played a pass on the ground the O’Reilly at the near post, but under pressure, she pushed it just wide left.

In the 73rd minute Leroux smacked a shot from distance off the outside of the left post and then she had a great chance to win it in the 89 th, bulling her way past a defender into the right side of the penalty area, but cut her shot just past the far post from 15 yards out.

Japan was content to sit back for most of the match, but made a push with about 15 minutes left and got a questionable call in the 83rd minute when Becky Sauerbrunn was called for a hand ball while blocking a service that appeared to hit her chest.

Japan’s captain Aya Miyama took the freekick from about 35 yards out, hitting a wicked knuckler that  diving U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo could only parry into the upper right corner to tie the score at 1-1.

Japan also had a chance to win it late. In the 87th minute, Rumi Utsugi sent her volley wide left from close range as U.S. defenders converged.

Additional Notes:

  • The USA extended its current overall unbeaten streak to 43 games (36-0-7) dating back to March of 2012 when it lost to Japan during group play at the Algarve Cup.
  • The USA moved to 3-0-1 on the year with its first draw of 2014.
  • The U.S. WNT improved to 24-1-5 all-time against Japan.
  • The USA is now 16-0-4 under head coach Tom Sermanni.
  • Sermanni made just two substitutions in the match, sending on Tobin Heath for Heather O’Reilly and Kristie Mewis for Morgan Brian, both in the 73 rd minute.
  • It was the first appearance in a U.S. uniform for Heath, who struggled to overcome an ankle injury, since June 15, 2013, when she played 90 minutes against Korea Republic.
  • O’Reilly earned her 197th cap and is now just three games away from becoming the ninth WNT player to reach the 200-game mark.
  • With U.S. captain Christie Rampone and co-captain Abby Wambach not seeing action, Becky Sauerbrunn captained the U.S. team, as she did in the opening game of the Algarve Cup last year.
  • Twenty-one-year-old Morgan Brian made just her third start and earned her sixth cap.
  • The most recent U.S. tie in the Algarve Cup came in last year’s tournament, a 1-1 draw with Sweden in the final group game, a result that sent the USA to the championship game.

-U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Japan
Date: March 5, 2014
Competition: 2014 Algarve Cup – Group B
Venue: Belavista Municipal Stadium; Parchal, Portugal
Kickoff: 7:45 a.m. ET / 12:45 p.m. local
Attendance: 500
Weather: 66 degrees, windy, partly cloudy

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

USA – Sydney Leroux                        59th minute
JPN – Aya Miyama                              83

Lineups:
USA:
1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), 6-Whitney Engen, 14-Stephanie Cox; 9-Heather O’Reilly (17-Tobin Heath, 73), 7-Morgan Brian (19-Kristie Mewis, 73), 10-Carli Lloyd, 15-Megan Rapinoe; 23-Christen Press, 2-Sydney Leroux
Substitutions Not Used: 3-Christie Rampone, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 12-Samantha Mewis, 13-Sarah Hagen, 16-Rachel Van Hollebeke, 18-Alyssa Naeher, 20-Abby Wambach, 21-Jill Loyden, 25-Meghan Klingenberg 
Head coach: Tom Sermanni

JPN: 21-Erina Yamane; 2-Yukari Kinga, 3-Azusa Iwashimizu, 4-Saki Kumagai, 19-Saori Ariyoshi (5-Aya Sameshima, 38); 6-Mizuho Sakaguchi (22-Nanase Kiryu, 68), 8-Aya Miyama (capt.), 9-Nahomi Kawasumi (16-Mana Iwabuchi, 59), 10-Homare Sawa (13-Rumi Utsugi, 76); 11-Shinobu Ohno, 17-Yuki Ogimi (15-Megumi Takase, 76)
Substitutions Not Used: 1-Miho Fukumoto, 7-Kozue Ando, 12-Megumi Kamionobe, 14-Asuna Tanaka, 18-Ayumi Kaihori, 20-Kana Kitahara, 23-Emi Nakajima                   
Head coach: Norio Sasaki

Stats Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 20 / 8
Shots on Goal: 8 / 4
Saves: 3 / 6 
Corner Kicks: 2 / 4
Fouls: 12 / 5
Offside: 2 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
JPN -- Rumi Utsugi (caution)                           87th minute

Officials:
Referee: Efthalia Mitsi (GRE)
Assistant Referee 1: Chrysoula Kouromplyia (GRE)   
Assistant Referee 2: Judith Romano Garcia (ESP)
Fourth Official: Teodora Albon (ROM)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Sydney Leroux  


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