An important match versus Japan looms. Predictions?
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 15-Kate Markgraf, 3-Christie Rampone - Capt., 14-Stephanie Cox, 15; 9-Heather O'Reilly, 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Carli Lloyd, 5-Lindsay Tarpley; 16-Angela Hucles, 8-Amy Rodriguez.
JPN: 1-Miho Fukumoto; 2-Yukari Kinga, 3-Hiromi Ikeda, 4-Azusa Iwashimizu, 7-Kozue Ando; 5-Miyuki Yanagita, 8-Aya Miyama, 10-Homare Sawa, 15-Mizuho Sakaguchi; 17-Yuki Nagasato, 11-Shinobu Ohno.
1- The U.S. needs to score quickly to gain confidence.
3 - ARod with a header after a nice run of U.S. attacking play. It pops over the bar, but a decent attempt from the shorty.
5 - The longer Japan can hang on, the more of a threat they become. The U.S. should win, but the fact is, all the pressure is on the Americans, because that's where the expectations are.
6 - A long pass to O'Reilly gets cut off.
8 - Tarp with a nice long pass to HAO, wo brings it down and gets off a cross, but Japan clears the ball for a corner. The header from Boxx goes over the bar.
9 - Tarp in traffic, gets off a decent shot on goal, but Fukumoto is on it.
11 - The U.S. has come out with verve in this match, but no matter how good the team looks or how much time they have on the ball, without a goal, it's all style without substance.
13 - Mitts gives up a foul - a bit of a tricky free kick now for Japan, but the U.S. clear it.
14 - Japan comes back, though, and Solo is forced to punch the ball out for a deep Japanese throw.
15 - Kinga shot! She beats Solo, but her shot is wide by a bit.
17 - Again, the U.S. is denied on the doorstep of Japan's goal. There's just a bit of hesitation, leading to shots blocked. Tarpley, Boxx, Lloyd. Someone just needs to have no fear and take the ball first time or something.
19 - U.S. corner, but Rampone can't knock in Lloyd's flick to the far post - it's too high.
21 - Boxx takes down Ohno after a Japan run of play.
22 - Sawa shoots off the FK - forcing a nice tip save from Solo, but still a corner chance. The U.S. clears, but gives up possession. Rampone passes out to Japan - second time this game I've seen her do that. If she can't find a teammate, it might be smarter to put it out of bounds.
24 - Lloyd from distance, not that close.
25 - ARod with a nice run to beat a defender and earn a corner. The U.S. needs something to happen soon on these. Rampone takes a really weird volley shot on a deflection - way wide of goal.
27 - GOAL! Cox makes the run and the cross - which creates tons of danger. ARod misses it, but pulls defenders to her in the attempt and Lloyd runs on to the the ball near the top of the box and hammers it home. 1-0 U.S.
30 - Japan is on the attack, looking to equalize. They came back from two goals down versus New Zealand. They are a capable team.
32 - ARod is caught offside. Japan is successfully pressuring the U.S., in terms of the territory the game is played in.
33 - A Japanese cross goes past Solo and across the face of the goal and the U.S. is lucky that wasn't met with a strike.
38 - Amy bangs a cross off a defender for a corner.
39 - Lloyd gets a shot off a deflection - but it's way high.
40 - ARod fights for a ball in the box - very tenacious. She doesn't latch onto it, but forces a desperate clear that falls to Tarp, whose cross is deflected for a corner.
41 - Japan clears and kicks out on the counter immediately, forcing the U.S. to chase the play.
42 - ARod on the break, Hucles sprung her with a great pass - but ARod's chip is soft and easily caught.
44 - Mitts in the box - nearly beats the goalkeeper to a ball. Nothing like a defender on the attack to disturb the equilibrium of a match. Of course, it leaves gaps going the other way.
45 - One minute of injury time.
The U.S. dominated play, but Lloyd's goal remains the close margin of advantage for the U.S., which badly needs the whole three points. Japan has been dangerous on the counter, so one slip up by the U.S. could be deadly. On the other hand, the U.S. is still creating chances and just needs to slot one home to breathe more easily.
47 - Oooh, so close for Japan there, and now they have a corner.
48 - Crappy corner, though, into the outside side netting.
49 - Chastain on the commentary lapses into the royal "we" when describing the U.S. play. It would have been less obvious if she hadn't apologized for it.
50 - Sawa's shot is blocked - Japan has brought more energy to their second-half effort.
52 - Right now, the U.S. midfield isn't holding the ball well at all, which is allowing Japan a lot of chances to press the defense.
53 - Chastain comments on the technique of the Japanese players - which is solid. They don't have the explosiveness of the U.S. players, but they don't randomly lose control as often as the Americans do.
56 - ARod chases down the ball on a break. The little blonde has a motor. She crosses - Boxx eventually gets a shot off, but it's over the bar.
59 - Fukumoto is out of her box, misses the ball, but a defender clears before the U.S. can take advantage.
60 - Boxx tests Fukumoto on the restart, but the goalkeeper parries well.
62 - Nagasoto from distance. It gets through traffic and past the gloves of Solo, but it's wide.
63 - ARod on a counter chance, splits two defenders, shoots - high. Too bad, she set it up so well.
65 - Ikeda gets squashed by Hucles falling on her after Ikeda slide-tackles a ball to safety.
68 - No subs yet for Pia. She's got to start thinking about who needs to be fresh for the next match, though.
71 - Japan is pressing for a while, but the U.S. break back and HAO earns another corner for the Americans.
72 - Another corner for the U.S. It's odd how they've been so ineffective on set plays. Oooh, Mitts nearly chances that it a solid shot on goal from a deflection. Fukumoto parries it out.
74 - Tobin Heath comes in for Tarp.
75 - Boxx takes a tackle from behind. Yellow for Sawa.
77 - Corner for Japan, which is threatening the U.S. goal again.
79 - Heath busts a move into the box, gets off a cross that ARod can't quite convert into a shot.
81 - ARod just wide with a shot in the box - oooh, just wide. She's been dangerous all game, but not deadly.
82 - Arakawa comes in for Ikeda as Japn goes more offensive in search of their goal. There's a lot of time left, actually.
83 - Japan FK - Miyama takes it and boots it too far to be a major threat.
Buehler comes in for Cox.
85 - So far the U.S. hasn't been able to take advantage of the three back line. But neither has the U.S. given way to the three Japanese forwards.
86 - Kai comes in for ARod, who did everything but score for her team today.
88 - Solo way out of position as the cross comes in - lucky that the header missed.
89 - Kai on the counter, into the box, shoots near post - outside side netting.
90 - Arakawa with a dangerous cross - Boxx nearly puts it into her own goal. Her touch on the ball did create a corner.
90+ Solo punches, but Japan recover. The ensuing cross is dangerous, but no one from Japan manages to get on to the ball. They're stalking the U.S. goal, though. Nervy stuff.
O'Reilly with a runs takes some time off the clock - doesn't quite make it to the corner to waste time there.
Mitts cuts off a long pass, but her own pass is picked off - doesn't matter. ]
Final whistle! The U.S. women are in the win column again - just barely.
Overall, the U.S. really picked up their performance, but only once did they leverage their many, many chances into an effective strike. Japan was also more than a bit unlucky not to score on one of their chances.
However, if the U.S. continues on the curve of improvement, they should still be in medal contention.