• Wambach and Rodriguez Score in First Half
• USA Shuts Out World’s Fourth-Ranked Team as Solo Gets First Start Since Major Shoulder Surgery
• USA Heads to Cary, N.C., to Face Japan in Second Leg of Two-Game Series on May 18 Live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio (May 14, 2011) – The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Japan 2-0 in its third-to-last match before opening the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, getting first half goals from forwards Abby Wambach and Amy Rodriguez.
The first goal from Wambach was a spectacular finish off a classic header while the second from Rodriguez was beautifully-crafted and also put away with class.
“If you look at the first 25 minutes, I don’t think it was good soccer from our side,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “They kept possession and so forth. But, we stayed composed and we came back and the fact that we picked up the rhythm a little bit makes me happy. You don’t have to play beautiful soccer for 90 minutes but you need to be smart enough to find a way to play such good soccer so you can win the game. I think that we did that in the second half and partly late in the first half.”
Japan controlled most of the first 25 minutes with the excellent ball possession, firing three shots to the USA’s zero, but then the Americans settled down and started to impose their style, firing seven shots and scoring twice before Japan could produce another shot of their own.
In the 25th minute, the first good attacking sequence from the U.S. got Wambach into the left side of the penalty area. Her driven shot was knocked down by Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori and a defender slid to clear the ball away in front of a crashing Rodriguez. The clearance went back to Wambach outside the left edge of the penalty area and she sent a cross back into the middle that was brought down well by Heather O’Reilly, but her half-volley was scooped up by Kaihori on a collapsing dive.
In the 27th minute, Wambach nodded on long goal kick from Hope Solo into the path of Rodriguez, who scooped the ball past a defender and tore in on frame. She got a toe to a shot just inside the penalty area before Kaihroi crashed into her while making the save. Rodriguez popped up and took a swing at the loose ball, but the whistle had blown for a foul.
Wambach’s goal came in the 29th minute off a set play after she was bowled over from behind about 20 yards inside the Japanese defensive half. Right back Ali Krieger took the free kick and launched a perfect far post cross to Wambach, who rose powerfully to snap a header from seven yards into the upper left corner while jumping over a defender and just a second before Kaihori crashed into her.
It was Wambach’s 118th career goal and first since Nov. 8, 2010, against Costa Rica during CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying. The USA is now 77-1-2 all-time in matches in which Wambach scores.
“Just look at that goal, it was fantastic,” said Sundhage. “Not only that, there were a couple of times that we played the ball to her she is a target and she just lays it off. It was absolutely beautiful at times.”
Moments after her goal, Wambach sent a full-out diving header just wide right of the net off a cross from the right wing.
The USA made it 2-0 in the 37th minute after a quick series of passes sprung O’Reilly down the right side. She veered slightly into the middle as she dribbled for about 30 yards, then played a pass out to the right wing to the overlapping Wambach. Wambach took a touch and then spun a near post pass on the ground for Rodriguez, who met the ball first-time with her left foot, pushing her shot off the right post, behind the diving Kaihori and over the line.
It was the 16th career international goal for Rodriguez.
Solo made her first starting since recovering from major shoulder surgery last September and looked extremely sharp on the night, making three saves to earn her 51st career shutout. She was extremely solid on balls served into the penalty box and defused a dangerous Japanese attack in the 58th minute when she raced out of the goal to punch away a bouncing ball with one first. Solo’s return to action came on May 2 when she played the second half of the match against England.
Just seconds into second half the USA almost put the game away when Shannon Boxx worked herself free in the right side of the penalty box after receiving a nice pass from halftime substitute Lindsay Tarpley. The shot from Boxx was deflected shot and then pushed away by Kaihori. Another halftime substitute, Tobin Heath, had a swing at it from right on the doorstep, but only got a small piece of the ball and Kaihori saved it again before it was cleared away.
Lauren Cheney, who came on in the 64th minute for Rodriguez, had a good chance in the 73rd after she got behind a Japanese defender into the left side of the penalty box. Her close range shot from the sharpest of angles almost right on the end line was knocked down and then smothered by the goalkeeper.
Alex Morgan, the youngest member of the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team at 21 years of age, came into the game for the final 15 minutes and created danger on several occasions while running at the Japanese defense. In the 84th minute she sprinted into the left side of the penalty box with one defender trailing and seemed to have space to shoot, but couldn’t turn her chance on goal.
Carli Lloyd, who was honored before the match for her 100th career cap, which she earned in the USA’s final domestic game of 2010, wore the captain’s armband for the first time. The win extended the USA’s domestic unbeaten streak to 49 games.
The elation of the victory was dampened a bit as Tarpley, a veteran of two Olympic Games and the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team, went down a knee injury with about 15 minutes left. She will be evaluated further this evening.
The U.S. team will travel to Cary, N.C., tomorrow in preparation for the second match of this two-game series against Japan taking place at WakeMed Soccer Park on Wednesday, May 18, at 7 p.m. ET. The match will be shown live on ESPN2. The USA’s Women’s World Cup Send-Off Match will take place on June 5 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., against Mexico. That match kicks off at 2 p.m. ET and will also be broadcast live on ESPN2.
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 USA will face Korea DPR, Colombia and Sweden in first round play.
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 Match Report -
Match:U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Japan
Date: May 14, 2011
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET
Weather: Balmy, cloudy – 69 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
JPN 0 0 0
USA – Abby Wambach (Ali Krieger) 29th minute
USA – Amy Rodriguez (Abby Wambach) 37
USA:1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 19-Rachel Buehler, 14-Stephanie Cox; 9-Heather O’Reilly (5-Lindsay Tarpley, 46, 13-Alex Morgan, 76), 7-Shannon Boxx (16-Lori Lindsey, 64), 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 15-Megan Rapinoe (17-Tobin Heath, 46); 8-Amy Rodriguez (12-Lauren Cheney, 64), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 3-Christie Rampone, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 21-Jill Loyden, 22-Whitney Engen
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
JPN: 12-Ayumi Kaihori; 3-Azusa Iwashimizu, 4-Saki Kumagai, 15-Aya Sameshima 2-Yukari Kinga; 6-Mizuho Sakaguchi (13-Rumi Utsugi, 67), 7-Kozue Ando (20-Mana Iwabuchi, 61), 8-Aya Miyama, 10-Homare Sawa (capt.); 9-Shinobu Ohno (14-Emi Nakajima, 67), 17-Yuki Nagasato (19-Megumi Takase, 67)
Subs not used: 1-Miho Fukumoto, 5-Kyoko Yano, 11-Nahomi Kawasumi, 16-Maiko Nasu, 18-Karina Maruyama
Head Coach: Norio Sasaki
Statistical Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 15 / 9
Shots on Goal: 9 / 3
Saves: 3 / 7
Corner Kicks: 5 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 12
Offside: 0 / 4
Referee: Kari Seitz (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Marlene Duffy (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Veronica Perez (USA)
Fourth Official: Margaret Domka (USA)
Bud Light Woman of the Match: Abby Wambach