Saturday, August 9, 2008

Japan/U.S running blog

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.


Anonymous said...

AC, you're a warrior. Thanks for staying up and thanks for the report.

A.C. said...

Yep, I'm a warrior in my jammies, drinking tea! I feel so tough right now, balancing my laptop and pillows. Thanks for being there, too, reading.

Anonymous said...

Tough break for Japan in two games against the US for mens and womens team. I thought that japan womens team played a far better game than the usa. They really have to learn to finish though. But the rest of their game is so complete. They pass, they move off the ball, they have great overlapping runs by the outside backs; they do just about everything with amazing technique (other than finish). Imagine if they had the diverse, athletic talent pool that the US has! They would be top 5 in the world for men and number 1 or 2 for the women.

Its quite clear that Japan's football program as a whole is light years ahead of ours in coaching. It kind of makes me depressed to see even our women's team do longball after longball.

I do like Tobin Heath, though. She looks like quite the player.

Coach said...

Yay US of A - yes, I got up at 4:30 & I was able to watch with my new magic software! Missed alot of the game though due to the feed. Match Tracker even worked this morning too & it was a couple minutes ahead of the NBC feed so I knew what was coming & what I missed!

Canada so deserved a W against China but it just wasn't meant to be! Will take the tie though! :(

Go USA & Canada on Tuesday!

ghostwriter said...

Anon @4:05 I both agree and disagree.

I simply can't disagree more emphatically that Japan played better. The US women DOMINATED this match and had A-Rod or Rampone (who missed a header from 3yds) had finished, it would NOT have been close on the scoreboard either. Everybody played better but I thought Carli, Shannon, and A-Rod were Number 3, 2, and 1 stars today (oh, sorry that's still that hockey background thing going on there...)

And I can't agree more that Heath is a terrific talent who needs a bit of seasoning at this level. She made one fabulous offensive move (as noted by the intrepid AC) and one bonehead givaway in her own zone that led to good pressure by the Nadeshiko.

The Japanese defenders are going to be seeing number 8's on the back of a white jersey in their sleep tonight. A-Rod was the A-Train today. In the next year or two she'll learn to be a little more patient and finish those chances or make the defenders take her down for PK's. But she played her jet propelled heart out today.

Sorry, Coach, didn't see your game. Not on my TV and could not get to a broadband computer at that time. The tie still leaves your fate in your own hands and you should be OK anyway, as long as US and Norway hold serve.

betch said...

Any thoughts on why Aly Wagner is on the bench? I actually went back and checked the Norway match report to see if she was actually there, on the roster. Did I miss an announcement or an article explaining this?

Angel said...

wow, the US women looked bad in the 2nd half. AC, I really don't watch the women play, but do they really heavily on the long ball. if they play like that the rest of the tournament they can kiss a chance at a medal goodbye. I know they are missing Wambach, but I thought they were way better than that.

ghostwriter said...


I don't know that there's been anything written or said. AC is by far the better source there, if she'll comment. But Aly hasn't played too much since rejoining the team after her injuries and it's REALLY hot and humid there. There could be some concern about her game fitness. I suppose, too, that Pia has been looking for speed out of midfield and while Aly is a good possession player, she's not fast.

To you folks lamenting long ball, I would submit today's long ball was fundamentally different than the past Ryanball. There were a good number of long balls, but generally to a breaking Amy Rodriguez or Heather O'Reilly who threatened repeatedly to get in behind the Japanese D. That's a far cry from going long to Abby with her back to goal and a set defense between her and there. These were passes into space where a player was running onto them (OK, sure, I know, not every one, but a lot were) and it resulted several times in breakdowns in the Japanese back line that were dangerous. That nobody finished one does not invalidate the tactic. Amy (and to a lesser extent HAO) proved that the Japan side had no answer to her speed, and the team properly tried to use that advantage.

And I would also argue that the goal actually scored was, in part, due to the respect the Japanese learned quickly they needed to show A-Rod. While the pretty give and go was between Tarp and an overlapping Stephanie Cox, and Cox's cross was a beaut, it was A-Rod's run trying to get on the end of that cross that attracted two defenders and let Carli run into her half volley pretty much unmarked.

Are they a finished product. Hell no! Pia's only had them a relative few months compared to how long they played that route 1 style. But they're showing progress. If you measured time of possession, like in football, the US today had a 2-1 advantage. The number of times a defender or midfielder beat the first pressure today and looked for a purposeful outlet thereafter was pretty good.

They've got some exciting young players. Experience and, perhaps, WPS will help their development. And once they all get meshed into the system and have done it under big pressure a few times they will be awesome!

Anonymous said...

Ghost I couldn't disagree more. The USA did not have a 2-1 advantage in possession and far from dominated anything. Japan ran circles with the ball around the USA in every part of the field. The only viable way the USA was able to attack was off a longball counterattack. Thats it. If thats a style, then it sucks. It seems you really, really, really like A-rod despite the fact that other running a lot, she was terrible. She didn't even finish her one on one toward the end of the game when Japanese defense was playing high up.

The fact that Japan was able to carve up the USA team up at will while the USA resorted to a longball says it all. Japan deserved at least a point from that game, but credit to the USA team for not giving one up.

If the USA is going to keep playing this longball style, which I thought everyone said Pia had gotten rid of, then they aren't going to medal. Canada, Norway, Germany, Brazil and even North Korea have looked much better.

More Tobin less Oreilly too, please.

ghostwriter said...

Game stats, US/Japan: shots: 18/9; on goal 6/4; corners 9/4. For a team that "ran circles" around the US squad, Japan seems to have come up remarkably short on both scoreboard and statistics.

Coach said...

ANON, I'm left wondering if by chance we were all watching the same game?

Wait, it was 5:00 a.m. & a few of us may have slept through it?


Coach said...

From the WNT Blog:

With reference to Ronaldinho, "young" Tobin Heath remarked, "It would be a privilege to be nutmegged by that guy."

Hmmm - Tobin - you bad! lol

The humour just can't stop!


A-Rod, Tobin & Rachel - I'ma liking the future of this team!

Coach said...

Ghost, Win, Lose or Draw, Canada is through based on results from Group F this morning!