USA-Japan Women's Friendly Player Ratings

March 11 in Frisco, Texas
USA 3 Japan 1. Goals: Rapinoe 7, Press 26, Horan 83; Iwabuchi 58.
Att.: 19,096.
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After wins over England (2-0) and Spain (1-0), the USA beat Japan, 3-1, in Frisco, Texas, to win the 2020 SheBelieves Cup. Japan became the first team to out-shoot the USA (11-7) after 16 games since the USA's 2-1 quarterfinal win over France at the 2019 World Cup. But the Japanese failed to rebound from the first-half golazos by Megan Rapinoe  and Christen Press. A powerful header off a corner kick by Lindsey Horan iced the game the game for the USA.

USA Player Ratings
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)


Adrianna Franch played well with her feet on her defenders' back passes when Japan pressed early in the game. She bobbled a 28-yard shot in the 50th minute and was lucky that Narumi Miura's sharp-angle shot hit the post. Franch had no chance on the goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns) 4/0 (29)


Left back Crystal Dunn won her battles with winger Mina Tanaka, but offensively failed to connect her passes before being subbed in the 61st minute. Kelley O’Hara made some good tackles but lost track, because she wandered into the middle, of Emi Nakajima, who assisted on Mana Iwabuchi's goal. Central defender Tierna Davidson can be satisfied with her 45-minute performance in first appearance in five months since suffering an ankle injury. She was replaced by Becky Sauerbrunn at halftime. Abby Dahlkemper was part of the central defense that interfered when the Japanese broke through the midfield and delivered the corner kick on the USA's third goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
4 Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals) 131/2 (31)

7 Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage) 61/0 (26)

6 Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars) 26/1 (21)

5 Crystal Dunn (NC Courage) 104/24 (27)


Lindsey Horan was fouled hard for the free kick that gave the USA a 1-0 lead. She missed a tackle on the Japan goal but her fierce defending otherwise and her excellent header for the third U.S. goal made up for that. Samantha Mewis also had a chance to interfere on the buildup to Japan's goal but didn't make an effort. Besides her nicely scooped pass to Horan in the 53rd minute, Mewis failed to trouble the Japanese defense. Julie Ertz defended competently on an evening when the U.S. midfield lacked cohesion. As was the case against Spain, the USA's had inferior possession. Against Japan, the Americans won thanks to a pair of set-play goals and one made possible by goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita's horrible clearance.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
7 Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns) 86/18 (25)

5 Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) 102/20 (27)

4 Samantha Mewis (NC Courage) 67/18 (27)


Megan Rapinoe played her best game since the World Cup, scoring on 23-yard free kick and dishing the ball to Christen Press on the second goal after Yamashita's blunder, but Rapinoe sent most of her passes to the Japanese -- she had Tobin Heath wide open for a breakaway in the 35th minute -- before being subbed in the 62nd minute. Press' seventh goal of the year was a brilliant chip over the goalkeeper from 22 yards, but her touches were off the few times she got the ball after her goal and before being replaced in the 71st minute. The goals by Press and Rapinoe, however, highlighted the USA's performance and created the cushion that it needed to beat the Japanese, who played more dynamically until Horan put the game away. Heath, yellow carded for a bad foul on the 50th minute, lost her one-on-ones on the dribble. Her 16th-minute cross went straight to Yamashita.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
3 Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) 168/33 (31)

7 Christen Press (Utah Royals) 138/58 (31))

7 Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign) 168/51 (34)


Becky Sauerbrunn's central defense play was a key the USA holding on to its lead. Young Mallory Pugh lost the ball dribbling in midfield and on a late-game attack, but she should have earned an assist for her pass to a wide open Carli Lloyd, who, while unmarked in front of the goal, shot far wide from nine yards in the 79th minute. Lynn Williams blasted a cross straight into a defender and a minute later over-hit one by 20 yards.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

7 Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns) 176/0 (34)

5 Mallory Pugh (Sky Blue FC) 63/18 (21)

5 Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars) 32/0 (29)

5 Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) 45/12 (24)

3 Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC) 293/123 (37)

3 Lynn Williams (NC Courage) 27/8 (26)

TRIVIA: The USA is now unbeaten in its last 48 homes games -- 43 wins and five ties.

March 11 in Frisco, Texas
USA 3 Japan 1. Goals: Rapinoe 7, Press 26, Horan 83; Iwabuchi 58.
USA -- Franch; O’Hara, Dahlkemper, Davidson (Sauerbrunn, 46), Dunn (Short, 61); Mewis (Lavelle, 72), Ertz, Horan; Heath (Williams, 78), Press (Lloyd, 71); Rapinoe (Pugh, 61).
Japan -- Yamashita; Miyake, Minami, Kumagai, Doko; Nakajima, Sugita, Miura, Tanaka (Iwabuchi 46); Sugasawa, Momiki (Ueki 84).
Yellow Cards: USA -- Heath 78; Japan -- Iwabuchi 45, Ueki 84. Red cards: none.
Referee: Melissa Borjas (Honduras).
Att.: 19,096.

Shots: 7/11
Shots on target: 4/4
Saves: 3/1
Corner Kicks:2/6
Fouls: 9/11
Offside: 7/2
Possession: 45%/55%

6 comments about "USA-Japan Women's Friendly Player Ratings".
  1. Michael Saunders, March 12, 2020 at 10:43 a.m.

    I enjoy player ratings as it provides a benchmark for me to compare what i see on the pitch as to the pluses and minuses.   If I have a criticism, is that the "number awarded" does not reflect the narrative evaluation that provides context.  For example, should a forward have an off day but manages to score, or better a "special" goal, the one moment transcends that player's performance... and of course vice versa.   This match had numerous examples; just a few:

    (1)  Rapinoe's goal was a terrific free kick, and you can "laud" her pass to Press who scored; but it was a gimmee.   The fact is that your narrative described what evryone saw on the pitch "...Rapinoe sent most of her passes to the Japanese" ... Rating 7

    (2)  Similarly Press' goal was gorgeous, she seized the opportunity of a huge mistake, and executed perfectly.  but it was ciorrectly stated that her few passes were off after the goal.... Rating 7

    (3)  Pugh had perhaps one good moment on her pass to Lloyd but literally dribbled and lost the ball and was a non-entity otherwise .... still earned a "passable" 5.

    There are more examples from other matches.  The point I am making is that a player's overall performance goes beyond a special moment or a careless blunder. Not trying to minimize either one, just seeking a check between the narrative and the number awarded to ensure consistency in the overll evaluation.     

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, March 13, 2020 at 1:58 a.m.

    I don't understand why SA and you both ignore Pugh's assist on the 3rd US goal.

  3. Nick Gabris, March 12, 2020 at 11:54 a.m.

    Good points Michael! I agree wholeheartedly!

  4. frank schoon, March 12, 2020 at 12:27 p.m.

    Watching the first 30min.shows how the passing game and/or passing techniques of the women's game is just bad. I'll give you two examples although there is lots more. The pass by our right centerback at 29:45 which was suppose be a medium range straight up the flank pass which in itself is a bad pass turns out to be a whopper of long pass downfield the flank miles from anyone. She has totally no feel for the ball, her body leans over, her back straight, with hips locked, whereby you can't give a nice touch placing a nice feel on the ball, but instead a smack on the ball. I've noticed that in other passes of hers in the game. She lacks good body balance passing executin a medium range pass...THIS IS WHY  CENTERBACKS SHOULD NOT BE  HANDLING THE PASSING GAME GOING FORWARDS ON THE BUILD UP!!!
    Then look at the Japanese goalie who caused the second goal. She can't even pass a ball over 15 meter unable to place it in the air to her teammate....

    Look at all the passes made in the game, they are all to the feet never in space. All of Ertz passes lack tempo always directly to a teammate's feet; too simplistic ,too predictable. All of our passes are predictable, simplistic and given without a feel or caress. Furthermore ALL passes are made in the direction of the dribble, how predictable. Neither  team can build up from the back.

    At least the Japanese like Spain can handle in the short passing game under pressure, although to the feet, which is fine. It is very difficult to give lead passes into open space for our defenders are fast and can out run the Japanese. 

    The crosses , accuracy and placement are poor...Rapinho crosses the and there is noone within miles at the end of it....At this level this stuff shouldn't happened, the Japanese likewise were not good on crosses either. This is all basic ELEMENTARY techniques, a player should have this down when moving up to this level of play. Neither am I impresses with Heath crosses or placementr...

  5. frank schoon, March 12, 2020 at 12:48 p.m.

    Again ,the opponents like Spain and the Japanese have better ball possession and we DON'T!!!!
    There is a reason why we are behind in this dept of the passing game. Other countries don't HAVE  the ATHLETES that we have and therefore need to play a THOUGHTFUL, MORE TECHNICAL , POSSESSION ORIENTED type of game. Ajax, or rather dutch soccer players could never survive playing, a rough, fight ,bruising game for that takes a lot of energy. Ajax is the epitome of how to play smart soccer in order to survive. If you look at Ajax, they are small or tall thin ,lanky but not build for power. It is all about technique and brains...

    What I'm saying here is that ATHLETICISM as so often describes our players and style of play ,acts as a DETERRENT , a BREAK, a RESISTANCE in the process of us playing ball possession and ball control for we try to rely on our power, running fast into open space. The moment we a play a team who is good in ball possession and good small spaces and good technically with the ball, than it NULLIFIES our type of game. It is like playing agains the English , when attacking DON'T employ crosses in the air hoping to outhead an English defender, FORGET IT!!! Instead you employ a passing game on the ground thereby nullifying their strength....

    In sum, we have as a nation got to change our style of that Athleticism as icing on the cake instead of the cake....

  6. frank schoon, March 12, 2020 at 3:27 p.m.

    The goal by Rapinho's direct kick is a perfect exampl of  Japan's lack of good positional defense of which the blame falls mainly on the goalie. First of all, note where the ball is placed ,it's situated not only directly facing the goal with no angle but right in the middle of the goal. Two, that means the goalie should be positioned at worst, in the middle of the goal. Three, note how Rapinho is positioned to the ball, almost square or rather a 110 degrees to the ball. That means with that she will kick it with a clockwise spin spinning and curving away from the goalie towards the near post.

    Rapinho is not positioned to kick the ball to the far post with any power. The goalie should have read this and thereby at best should have positioned herself a big step to the right of center in order to stop the ball going to the near post.

    But the goalie instead positioned a step closer to the far post and thereby gave Rapinho lots of space to kick the ball which can do only anyway to the near post. NO WAY, should the goalie have positioned herself favoring the far post. But instead should positioned right of center for ,let us say,even in case  Rapinho decided to go to the far post her shot would lack power and  it would take so much longer to reach the far post giving the goalie enough time to recover and stop the ball going to the far post. 

    Again ,at this level players need to be able to read those nuances, for those nuances in another form,like lets say, during positional game, players need to have that extra sense to feel and read what could be the next implications of where the ball should go or couldn't go , which is all in relation to a player's capability and his possible options

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