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Giveaways doom USA against Japan
by Paul Kennedy, March 5th, 2012 5:46PM
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TAGS:  japan, women's national team


[ALGARVE CUP] Substitute Megumi Takase scored on  a thunderous header off Aya Miyama's corner kick in the 84th minute to give Japan a 1-0 win over the USA in a rematch of the 2011 Women's World Cup final Japan won on penalty kicks and deprive the Americans of a 10th consecutive berth in the Algarve Cup final. The shutout marked the first time in 58 games the USA had failed to score at least one goal.

The Americans entered the match needing a win or a tie to advance to the final and a shot at their third consecutive and ninth overall title in this tournament.

But Japan won on a goal off its only corner kick of the game and only shot of the second half.

"I think in the first half, we looked very nervous and the decision-making was off," said U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. "Too many times we gave away the ball in situations when we were not even under pressure or in tight spaces. We couldn't keep the ball enough to be dangerous. When you give away the ball against Japan, they keep it. It's so much defending. Mentally and physically, that's tough, but I am happy with the changes we made at halftime and even parts of the first half where we tried to play more direct. I think we looked more dangerous and came up with a couple of chances, but overall you could tell there is a lot of things to work on and especially looking at Japan, their technique and how they keep the ball. They should be role models for the world, the way they play."

The USA will play for third place against Sweden, a 4-0 loser to Germany Wednesday in Parchal.

March 5 in Faro
USA 0 Japan 1. Goal: Takase 84.
USA -- Solo, LePeilbet (Heath, 87), Rampone, Buehler, O'Hara (Cox, 46), Cheney (O'Reilly, 46), Boxx, Lloyd (Lindsey, 31), Rodriguez (Rapinoe, 46), Morgan, Wambach (Leroux, 72).
Japan -- Fukumoto, Kinga, Iwashimizu (Utsugi, 65), Kumagai, Sameshima, Tanaka (Ito, 90+3), Sakaguchi (Sugasawa, 79), Miyama, Nagasato, Ando (Takase, 65), Ohno (Kawasumi, 65).
Att.: 1,000.

  1. Ken Sweda
    commented on: March 5, 2012 at 6:09 p.m.
    I'll never quite understand Pia. She says "I am happy...with the parts of the first half where we tried to play more direct" but then praises (rightfully) Japan's technique and says "they should be role models for the world, the way they play." The world other than the US, Pia? Will we never learn the real lessons from these games against quality sides? And please get Carli Lloyd out of there and give the gig to Vanessa DiBernardo (a true 10-shirt) already, never mind Vanessa's age.
  1. David Sirias
    commented on: March 6, 2012 at 8:28 a.m.
    Yup, Pia is a bit nuts isn't she. I used to think she was a good coach I guess that was all looking relative to get predecessor. Now I'm convinced she is just not very good. In her mind she must thinks we lack personnel to actually play anything other than direct. How else to explain Boxx and Lloyd -- an old and one dimensional midfield. Same thing was said about the men who purportedly had to play a counter attack style because we lacked the personnel. Well Klinsmann is proving that who do have the personnel. They just needed to be called in, instructed, and deployed. Maybe Pia does not have the depth the men have to do the same, but she can't or won't blood new talent . The time had come ( after this Summer ) to throw everything out, start over, and let younger talent with a modern skillset play and get experience -- results be damned for a while. No matter what happens in London we need a fresh set of eyes There are coaches at the college level who have identified possession capable players That resource needs to be tapped and soon. Otherwise the long term looks bleak especially without a D1 league , at least for a while.
  1. Tyler Dennis
    commented on: March 6, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.
    I think Pia was making two points, 1) about the game and doing what they needed to do to be effective; and 2) what the U.S. and the rest of the world should aspire too. Unfortunately the U.S. has been passed by when it comes to skill.... France and Japan play the better soccer now.
  1. Ryan Aoki
    commented on: March 6, 2012 at 12:33 p.m.
    David you are correct. Ken and I talk about this all the time. Pia talks about changing things and never does. She had the perfect opportunity to do it with all of the friendlies but decided to stay the course on the same players she brings in every year. The coach doing it at the University level is Janet Rayfield at Illinois. They play a technical style and she is looking for that type of talent that U.S. soccer has failed to identify. The players are out there, but if you go by the standard physical traits chart, those players never even get a look. If Japan went by normal US soccer standards they wouldn't be able to field a team. Vanessa has great field awareness, vision and technical ability but always gets told she's too small. She's finally with the u-20's making an impact. We need more of those players at the highest level. Pia, put your money where your mouth is or step aside.
  1. David Sirias
    commented on: March 6, 2012 at 2:34 p.m.
    Indeed. France and Japan have passed us up Maybe even Germany. We shall see. I think a whole generation of skilled players has been bypassed lost. This cannot continue, especially with no D1 league for the immediate future. The fans need to put pressure on the Fed, not for results, but for progress!
  1. James Madison
    commented on: March 13, 2012 at 4:19 p.m.
    Alex Morgan has been a "find." There are a number of other promising players, such as Stanford's Camie Levin, who should be called in unless they have indicated they are not interested in national team play.

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