Early Wednesday morning, the United States Under-20 Women’s National Team defeated Japan’s U-20 WNT 2:0 via highlight reel goals from Maya Hayes and Chioma Ubogagu in the teams’ second friendly of the week. In the previous encounter, the USA fell 0:1 to Japan on a late Yoko Tanaka goal.
[Edit: The description of the goals has been slightly corrected. The original wording has been crossed out, with the corrections added in italics.]
For Japan, head coach Hiroshi Yoshida made wholesale changes to the home team’s starting line-up as only one starter from the first match, defender Ayu Nakada, was on field at the beginning of this match. The USA only went with one change in their starting XI: Maya Hayes started up top in place of Lindsey Horan.
Steve Swanson’s line-up switch paid off in the 41st minute when, following a sequence of scrappy defending by the USA that led to both teams fighting for the possession,
Cari Roccaro Julie Johnston latched onto a loose ball and sent a short pass up to Cari Roccaro, who then launched a line drive pass up to midfield that split Japan’s two centerbacks who were retreating from their high line at the midfield stripe. Roccaro’s pass went straight up the middle, in between both of Japan’s centerbacks. Following right behind was Maya Hayes, who raced onto the ball and dribbled toward goal. Japan’s goalkeeper, Arisa Mochizuki, who started in place of Sakiko Ikeda, froze at the top of the box, allowing Hayes to skate on by. Then, Hayes dribbled a little bit more and tapped a shot into the goal.
Thirty-two minutes into the second half, the USA extended its lead right after one of Japan’s most dangerous chances in the match, which forced American goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin to make an extended grab-save as she fell onto her side. Heaberlin held onto the ball as the USA players moved up field and then rolled out the ball for a long kick. That kick was headed up by second half substitute Lindsey Horan, who tried to find Maya Hayes. Instead, the ball bounced to one of Japan’s centerbacks,
who could not gain possession who hit a weak short pass. Hayes was able to get to the loose ball before it reached its intended recipient and sent a drag-back pass into the path of Horan. Horan spun around and sent a through-ball up to Chioma Ubogagu, another second half sub, who was making a diagonal run from the left flank toward goal. Ubogagu let the pass bounce away from goal and then sent a left-footed volley shot from the left of goal that went in just under the crossbar. (The location, trajectory, and power of the shot was similar to Alex Morgan’s first goal against the senior Japan team on Monday.)
The USA had an excellent chance to go up fifteen minutes before the first goal when Sarah Killion intercepted a pass and slotted the ball up to Maya Hayes. Hayes ran toward the goal line and then passed to Katie Stengel, who was right in front of goal and sent a first-time shot off the underside of the crossbar, but the ball rebounded out and Japan was able to clear.
The match was a sometimes scrappy and physical affair as both teams applied tenacious pressure to each other’s passing game. USA players in the attacking third were at times, immediately double-teamed and even tripled-team. Compared to the first match, the USA was able to hold more of the ball and create chances from possession build-up, but fast counter-attacks continued to be the most effective method of breaking down Japan’s staunch defense.
Japan’s offense was rather ineffective, especially in the first half where it seemed that they had no quality chances. In the second half, after substitutions changed their line-up, the home team was able to create more scoring chances including a possible goal just a minute after Ubogagu made it 2:0. But, Japan’s potential goal-scorer was ruled offside and the goal was waived off.
After this trip, the U-20 USWNT has one more major camp, scheduled for July, before they head off in August to the Under-20 Women’s World Cup, which is hosted by Japan. For the tournament, the USA has been grouped with Ghana, China, and perennial heavyweight Germany.
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PARTIAL BOX SCORE (UNOFFICIAL)
[Edit: Missing substitution information, taken from US Soccer's match report, has been added for the USA and Japan. In that match report, the description and assist credit for the first goal is wrong.]
Team: United States U-20 WNT
Opponent: Japan U-20 WNT
Date: June 20, 2012
Venue: J-Green Dream Camp (Sakai, Japan)
USA Line-Up: Bryane Heaberlin (GK); Crystal Dunn, Julie Johnston, Cari Roccaro, Mollie Pathman (Stephanie Amack, 72′); Sarah Killion (Mandy Laddish, 64′), Morgan Brian (Ashley Meier, 82′), Vanessa DiBernardo (Samantha Mewis, 46′); Maya Hayes; Katie Stengel (Lindsey Horan, 64′); Kealia Ohai (Chioma Ubogagu, 46′).
Japan Line-Up: Arisa Mochizuki (GK Manami Muraoka, 71′); Ayu Nakada, Riho Sakamoto (Shiori Kinoshita, 68′), Mami Kanazawa, Naoko Wada; Yu Nakasato (Yoko Tanaka, 28′), Nozomi Fujita (Hikaru Naomoto, 68′), Chika Kato (Kumi Yokoyama, 74′), Haruna Kawashima (Ayaka Michigami, 46′), Hanae Shibata; Asuka Nishikawa (Mina Tanaka, 74′).*
*Yes, Japan did make seven substitutions. JFA’s match report has the same information (in Japanese).
41′ – USA – Maya Hayes (Cari Roccaro)
78′ – USA – Chioma Ubogagu (Lindsey Horan)
80′ – Cari Roccaro (Yellow; reckless tackle at midfield)