QUIHUANGDAO, China (August 9, 2008) — The United States Women's Olympic Team rode a Carli Lloyd goal and a solid defensive effort to a 1-0 victory against Japan in the second match of Group G action at the 2008 Olympic Games.
With the shutout win, the U.S. secured a vital three points as they seek a place in the knockout phase, moving into second place in Group G behind leaders Norway. The top two finishers in each of the three groups advance to the second round along with two best third-place finishers based on points.
"I am very happy about our performance today against a very technical, talented Japan team," said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. "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 it is the team that won today."
The U.S. will close out group action against New Zealand on Tuesday, Aug. 12, in Shenyang. Kickoff is set for 7:45 a.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on MSNBC and the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel. Fans can also follow along live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
The U.S. set a frenetic pace to open the contest, looking much more composed at the outset than in their opening match of the 2008 Games against Norway. The combination of tight organization and quick ball movement kept the Japanese under pressure from the opening whistle. The U.S. outshot Japan 18-9 on the night, while Hope Solo earned her first Olympic clean sheet in her second start.
The U.S. attack created its first opportunity in the eighth minute thanks to a nice passing exchange. Lindsay Tarpley played a lovely diagonal switch to O’Reilly on the right flank, who beat her marker to the endline. Her cross was narrowly cleared by a sliding Japanese defender as Angela Hucles lurked on the back post. Less than a minute later, Tarpley took a crack on her own, forcing her way through two defenders and ripping a left-footer from 20 yards that goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto did well to smother.
Japan’s first good chance came at the quarter-hour, and it was nearly trouble. Mizuho Sakaguchi received a pass inside the area and smacked a low drive that just skimmed by the far post.
The U.S. continued to press the game, seeking to exploit their speed on both flanks with quick passes played forward into space. Both Rodriguez – making her first Olympic start – and O’Reilly worked tirelessly throughout the night to keep the Japanese on their heels with their willingness to take on defenders.
Japan got another good look at the midway point of the first half when veteran Homare Sawa found space at the left corner of the box. Spying the far post, she tried to a curl a shot to upper corner, but Solo calmly rose to tip the ball over the bar.
The decisive moment came in the 27th minute as the result of hustle from the U.S. team. Tarpley fought for possession near the midfield stripe and played a through ball to Stephanie Cox, who had overlapped from the left back position. Cox raced to the endline and hit a left-footed cross towards the top of the box. The ball bounced past a defender and found Lloyd at the top of the box. Lloyd stepped up and unleashed a wicked half volley that sailed above Fukumoto and rippled the back of the net. The goal was Lloyd’s 18th in her international career and her first in Olympic play.
The pace mellowed a bit around the 30-minute mark as the heat and humidity began taking its toll, but both sides still probed for opportunities. In the 33rd minute, Yuki Nagasoto penetrated the U.S. penalty area by getting past Kate Markgraf. She slotted a ball across the six-yard box that appeared to be dangerous, but the U.S. defense stood well positioned and the effort skipped harmlessly through.
Just three minutes before the halftime whistle, the U.S. nearly broke through again. From near the center circle, Hucles started a quick counter by slipping a through ball between the Japanese defense and sending Rodriguez racing through towards goal. Charging into the box, she tried to pick out the far post but the Japanese ‘keeper stood her ground to thwart the attempt.
The second half began a bit more measured for the U.S. as Japan came out pressing for the equalizer. The U.S. did well to absorb the early pressure and shortly snatched the momentum.
Shannon Boxx – who traded moments of getting forward with her midfielder partner Lloyd - got a pair of chances three minutes apart. In the 56th minute, she took a first-time strike from the top of the area, only to see the well-struck effort keep rising over the Japanese goal. Three minutes later, she made a quick turn 25 yards out and slammed a left footer towards the near post that forced a diving save from Fukumoto.
The U.S. looked in control through the middle phase of the half, denying Japan a good look at goal while patiently seeking out counter-attacking opportunities in search of an insurance goal. They had a golden chance to double the lead in the 80th minute when O’Reilly delivered a penetrating pass to Rodriguez near the top right corner of the area. She fought off her defender and earned a clear look at goal. With the ‘keeper off her line, she let go a curling shot destined for the far post, but the ball bent agonizingly wide.
With minutes remaining, Japan turned up the heat as they probed for the equalizer. In the 88th minute, Shinobu Ohno beat three U.S. markers and dribbled to the endline. Her delivery into the six-yard box found Karina Maruyama first to the ball, but U.S. captain Christie Rampone bodied the Japanese attacker enough to force an off balance header that fell wide. Rampone earned her 199th international cap in the victory.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Japan
Competition: 2008 Olympics
Venue: Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Center Stadium; Qinhuangdao, China
Date: August 9, 2008; Kickoff – 5:00 p.m. local / 5:00 a.m. ET
Weather: Hazy, Humid, 78 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
JPN 0 0 0
USA – Carli Lloyd (Stephanie Cox) 27th minute.
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 15-Kate Markgraf, 3-Christie Rampone – Capt.,14-Stephanie Cox (4-Rachel Buehler, 83); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Carli Lloyd, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (13-Tobin Heath, 73); 16-Angela Hucles, 8-Amy Rodriguez (6-Natasha Kai, 86)
Subs not used: 1-Nicole Barnhart,10-Aly Wagner, 12-Lauren Cheney, 17-Lori Chalupny
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
JPN: 1-Miho Fukumoto; 2-Yukari Kinga, 3-Hiromi Ikeda (9-Eriko Arakawa, 82) 4-Azusa Iwashimizu, 7-Kozue Ando (12-Karina Maruyama, 62); 5-Miyuki Yanagita, 8-Aya Miyama, 10-Homare Sawa, 15-Mizuho Sakaguchi (13-Ayumi Hara, 65); 17-Yuki Nagasato, 11-Shinobu Ohno.
Subs not used: 6-Tomoe Kato,14-Kyoko Yano, 16-Rumi Utsugi, 18-Ayumi Kaihori
Head Coach: Norio Sasaki
Statistical Summary: USA / JPN
Shots on Goal: 6/4
Corner Kicks: 9/4
JPN – Homare Sawa (caution) 74th minute.
Referee: Pannipar Kamnueng (THA)
Asst. Referee: Widiya Shamsuri (MAS)
Asst. Referee: Ja Daw Kaw (MYA)
4th Official: Christine Beck(GER)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd
2008 Olympic Women’s Soccer Tournament Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
NOR 2 0 0 6 3 0 +3
USA 1 1 0 3 1 2 -1
NZL 0 1 1 1 2 3 -1
JPN 0 1 1 1 2 3 -1
Japan 2, New Zealand 2
Norway 2, USA 0
USA 1, Japan 0
New Zealand 0, Norway 1
Norway vs. Japan, 7:45 a.m. ET
USA vs. New Zealand, 7:45 a.m. ET
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
CAN 1 0 1 4 3 2 +1
CHN 1 0 1 4 3 2 +1
SWE 1 1 0 3 2 2 0
ARG 0 2 0 0 1 3 -2
Argentina 1, Canada 2
China 2, Sweden 1
Sweden 1, Argentina 0
Canada 1, China 1
China vs. Argentina, 7:45 a.m. ET
Sweden vs. Canada, 7:45 a.m. ET
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
BRA 1 0 1 4 2 1 +1
GER 1 0 1 4 1 0 +1
PRK 1 1 0 3 2 2 0
NGA 0 2 0 0 0 2 -2
Germany 0, Brazil 0
North Korea 1, Nigeria 0
Nigeria 0, Germany 1
Brazil 2, North Korea 1
North Korea vs. Germany, 5 a.m. ET
Nigeria vs. Brazil, 5 a.m. ET