- 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.
- 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-
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
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
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
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
JPN - Rumi Utsugi (caution) 87th minute
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
U.S. WNT vs. Japan
Post-Match Quotes – March 5, 2014
Algarve Cup – Group B
U.S. WNT head coach TOM SERMANNI
On the match:
“I thought we did more than enough to win the game, and we had enough chances to probably win two or three games. But, it’s the classic tale that if you don’t take your chances when the game is at one-nil. It’s always very dangerous, particularly when you are playing quality opposition. One free kick, which was a bit questionable, and suddenly the score is one-all.”
On the team’s overall performance:
“Other than the result, which is disappointing, the actual performance, the chances we created, the way we pressured Japan, the amount of balls we won in the Japanese half, and the way we just generally, particularly in the second half, dominated the game, I thought was fanatic. If we had ended up winning the game I’d have been elated, rather than feeling a little bit deflated, simply because of the result.”
On the team defense creating offensive chances:
“I thought we did exceptionally well by winning the ball and really counter attacking and even in the first half we could have scored four goals in the counter-attack. In the level of the performance, and in a lot of things we talked about and worked on at training, they did come out in the game. But funny old thing about soccer, it’s just a tight game and often the result masks the performance.”
U.S. WNT forward CHRISTEN PRESS
On the match:
“I think overall it was a good match for both sides. There was a lot of good possession out there, but it was the first game of the tournament so we had to shake our legs out a bit. I think we are a little disappointed not to come away with the win after having the lead, but I think we are moving in the right direction as a team.”
On creating quite a bit of danger down the wings:
“We were trying to swing the point out attack more than we usually do. I think that opened up some spaces and we created a good amount of chances in front of the goal so that was really good for us.”
On creating so many chances against the world’s third-ranked Japan:
“Going out there and being able to play a game like this against one of the world’s best team means a lot of our team. It’s good for our confidence. Sweden will be a totally different opponent, but if we can come and impose our style every game against every opponent, that will help us a lot going into the World Cup qualifiers (at the end of this year).”
U.S. WNT forward SYDNEY LEROUX
On her goal, which came when she blocked a clearance from the Japanese goalkeeper:
“I think the center-back played to the goalie and the goalie kind of just took a touch and looked to play someone, and I pressured her and slid and hit it. It kind of ricocheted perfectly off my foot into the net. I thought I had could get it. She was very lackadaisical, so I said, ‘ok, I’ll pounce,’ and I got her.”
On the USA creating chances:
“We had a lot of chances that we should have finished, but that’s the game of soccer so hopefully we’ll come out next game and finish those chances.”
U.S. WNT midfielder HEATHER O’REILLY
On dealing with the windy conditions:
“It was pretty windy out there, but we’re used to this when we come to the Algarve. It’s always going to be a battle of the elements, sometimes with the field and wind and stuff like that, but we got the ball down and knocked it around and did some good stuff today. We’re disappointed that we didn’t come away with the win, but we are happy how we dominated the game in certain points.”
On pressuring Japan to spur the U.S. attack:
“Our offense a lot of times starts with our defense and in the first half we were maybe a little bit conservative and sort of over-respected the Japanese possession. In the second half, we won the ball higher up the field and that allowed us to create chances offensively on the attack so it really just stemmed from good defense I think.”
CHICAGO (Feb. 5, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will face world powers Japan, Sweden and Denmark in Group B at the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal, which is being held from March 5-12.
The USA opens the competition on March 5 against Japan, then faces Sweden on March 7 and finishes group play against Denmark on March 10. Group A will feature Germany, Norway, Iceland and China PR. The Group C nations that will join host Portugal have yet to be finalized.
The 2014 Algarve Cup will be the 21st edition of a tournament that has grown into one of the world’s top competitions for women’s national teams. The tournament features the top three teams in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings in the USA, Germany and Japan, respectively, as well as Sweden (6th), Norway (8th), Denmark (12th), China PR (18th) and Iceland (19th).
The match venues and kickoff times have yet to be confirmed, but all the games will be played at small venues across the Algarve region on the southern coast of the country. Placement matches will take place on March 12.
Fans will be able to follow the USA’s intense schedule of four games in eight days via Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and can watch highlights on ussoccer.com.
Since expanding to 12 teams 13 years ago, the Algarve Cup format has been as follows: The winners of Groups A and B will compete for the Algarve Cup championship on Wednesday, March 12. The two second-place finishers in Groups A and B will play for third place while the third-place finishers in each group will play for fifth. The Group C teams will be competing for a chance to play for spots 7-12 as the winner of Group C will play the best fourth-place team from Groups A or B for seventh place. The second-place team in Group C will play the worst fourth-place team from Groups A or B for ninth place, and the third- and fourth-place finishers in Group C will play each other for 11th place.
This year will mark the 19th trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. Women, who have won the tournament a record nine times, including an unprecedented three straight championships from 2003-05. Last year, the USA defeated Germany 2-0 in the championship game as Alex Morgan scored twice. The USA’s most recent loss in all competitions took place at the Algarve Cup in 2012, a 1-0 setback to Japan in group play (which turned out to be the team’s only loss of the year) and the Americans missed the championship game for the first time in 10 years.
The USA has a 52-10-9 record all-time at the Algarve Cup and has scored 158 goals while allowing 54.