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Women's Soccer: U.S. 4, Japan 2

Editor's Note 1: Dan live-blogged the U.S.-Japan women's soccer game. See below for the second half recap or click here for the first half.

Editor's Note 2: Dan also provided the audio for this slideshow about the U.S.-Japan game and its implications.

To recap, after a slow start, a 1-0 deficit and long moments of disjointed attacking, the Americans offered a stunning offensive spurt, scoring twice in the final five minutes to run into the locker room with a lead.

The veteran soccer scribes on the U.S. women's beat say this is by far the largest crowd they've seen at soccer this month; they're loving the fake fans and their evidently real enthusiasm. To again cast aspersions on judo, handball and the rest: it's nice coming to a sporting event where the fans obviously understand what's going on and are invested in the outcome. And, as I said, they're now completely invested on the U.S. side of things.

The American reserves came out of the locker room far earlier than the Japanese and are still showing the pep they had when they sprinted into the locker room. The Americans are now 45 minutes away from a chance to avenge their World Cup loss to Brazil, this time for a gold medal. Or more than one gold medal, I guess.

[And the halftime show included 10 Fuwa mascots, five plush and five inflatable, plus a full squad of cheerleaders who circled the entire stadium.]

Offer second half thoughts below, I'll provide updates here.

47th minute: And we're off, with Hucles sending a pretty through ball to Rodriguez who tested the Japanese keeper. She made the diving save, but the Americans seem to have retained their momentum. Lloyd breaks up a Japanese attack, and continues to impress in the midfield.

And the Chinese fans are literally booing every Japanese touch.

49th minute: Two more Japanese chances, one broken up by Markgraf, one a cross that sailed over everyone's heads. Lightning quick American response, with Tarpley firing wide.

52nd minute: Another Rodriguez chance. Elects to take a shot from a tough angle instead of waiting for help, and the keeper is there. Lots of open space for the Americans on these counters and there are still 35 minutes to play.

56th minute: Sorry again about the confusion. My bad. Anyhow, Japanese substitute Hara (13) for Ando (7). I confess I'm not super familiar with the Japanese women's roster, but the printout we have say it's a midfielder for a defender. Hara was the only player on the bench that's scored in this tournament. U.S. is keeping the pressure on.

61st minute: U.S. causing all kinds of trouble, with Rampone sending a dangerous cross into the heart of the defense and then Boxx nearly running onto a long feed.

63rd minute: Japanese give up ball to Mitts, who finds O'Reilly on the right, who sends a screaming shot to the near side that's nicely pushed away by the keeper. Foul on Lloyd off the corner. O'Reilly will cause more trouble tonight if they keep giving her that much space.

I can't remember the last time I was this hungry.

65th minute: Dangerous chance for Japanese, with Markgraf breaking it up. Off the ensuing corner Ohno gets a brief look, but can't put it on goal. All the Japanese people shown on our feed cringe. And the wave is going again.

68th minute: Natasha Kai comes in for Tarpley. Kai promptly waves her hands up in the air, asking the crowd for more noise. Nice to have one of those on your team. Kai, as usual, has two different colored shoes.

It's cooled off a little bit, and the humidity has definitely eased. U.S. seems peppier to me, and just had two more chances, although no shots.

70th minute: And another chance, and this one's a goal, with O'Reilly lofting in a clever try on her second touch from far on the right wing. Feed from Mitts, but that one's all O'Reilly. 3-1 U.S., 20 minutes to go.

74th minute: Japan substitutes two more, with Arakawa (9, and with an awesome fro) and Maruyama (12) entering.

76th minute: Attendance just announced at 50,937. Both Brazil and the U.S. fell behind 1-0 today before turning it on, with a combined seven unanswered goals (and counting). Fireworks in the final?

78th minute: O'Reilly and Kai playing games on the right side. With the Japanese keeper being beaten high on the past two goals, you'd think they might want to venture something from distance. And Solo with a comfortable save; the height comes in handy.

81st minute: Yeah. As I was saying. Hucles heads to the end line, goes high and near side, and the Japanese keeper has no chance. She's listed at 5-foot-5, a full four inches less than Solo, and it's cost her on three straight goals.

Japanese nearly answer on a header just wide from playmaker Sawa, but this one is over. And now there aren't going to be any stories about how the U.S. has struggled heading into the final. There's been some offensive magic here.

U.S. sub, Cheney for Rodriguez.

83rd minute: And Cheney immediately has a chance, also on the right side.

84th minute: Mitts cramping, repeatedly. Still have a sub, but nothing yet.

86th minute: Cheney got the memo, trying to go high. And here's the sub: Cox for the cramping Mitts. Since the disastrous opening minutes against Norway, the U.S. back line has allowed two goals in about 440 minutes, if I'm doing some quick math correctly.

Extra time: Lloyd stuffed on a breakaway. Fans whistling for the end. And then the U.S. defense misses several chances to clear up a mess in front of the net and 'fro lady Arakawa stuffs in the rebound. Solo had no chance.

The End: Whistle. Game over. Blame it on the Japanese goalie, or give credit to O'Reilly and Hucles and and Chalupny for three pretty snazzy goals, but either way, Sundhage gets some vindication for all her claims that the team would improve in every game. They're now heading into Thursday's final against Brazil off the best performance they've had since they got to China.

The celebration was pretty muted from the U.S., just a few group hugs.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 18, 2008; 9:57 AM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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Next: Olympic Athletes Having Fun


Separate thread? Now that was just confusing.

Posted by: RK | August 18, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Match-tracker's showing yellows to Mitts and O'Reilly - legit cards? Or are we going to end the game 11 v 9 in a flurry of one-sided bookings?

Posted by: jhorstma | August 18, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Mitts got the card for kicking the ball away after a whistle.

US seems to have the run of the left wing, but Japan has some composure in the middle.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Separate threads helps with Web site promotion, since it keeps things looking fresh and new-smelling.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | August 18, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

You mentioned high humidity - which side is it affecting more?

Posted by: Rob Iola | August 18, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

The O'Reilly foul that got carded, I'm not sure should have been a card -- she stepped in to get the ball (from in front, not from behind) and went in a little hard.

Posted by: gringo | August 18, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Kai in for Tarpley.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Anyone in danger of accumulating two yellows over two games?

Posted by: RK | August 18, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

High humidity? Is that what they are calling lung-choking smog now?

Posted by: RK | August 18, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Japan is playing a low defensive line.

GOAL O'Reilly on a cross-shot that goes over teh GK's hand and into the far left side of the net.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, more movable type issues, I just got "timed out" whatever the hell that means.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | August 18, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse


Maybe you're the US team's lucky charm. Do you get to live blog the next game too?

Posted by: TG | August 18, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

As I was saying, Japan was playing a low defensive line, allowing the US lots of space in the midfield.

Japan making their 3rd sub.

Japan 'fro lady offside.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

That 'fro is amazing...or should I say dyn-o-mite!

(yeah, I know jimmy jj walker didn't have a fro)

Posted by: RK | August 18, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

please Live blog the next game!!! You rock!

Posted by: kris | August 18, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

How tall is the Japanese keeper? They've gone high on her twice now.

Posted by: tri-village | August 18, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

HUCLES on a shot-cross!

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Not meaning to jinx us, but is US Soccer flying in Briana Scurry for the gold medal game? She's got more experience against the Brazilians you know...

Posted by: Rob Iola | August 18, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

They just roofed her a third time.

Posted by: tri-village | August 18, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

@Rob lola: that was evil.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

With regard to the Japanese squad, I am intrigued by who is not there. Does anyone remember Mami Yamaguchi, last year's Hermann Trophy winner from Florida State? She passed up her senior year at FSU to turn pro and play in Sweden, a move that was apparently unprecedented in NCAA women's soccer history. She is not on this team. So far as I can tell, the entire Japanese side is domestically based. I don't know whether Yamaguchi was considered but not selected, or whether she is injured, or whether people who play overseas are simply not on the JWNT radar screen.

Posted by: tri-village | August 18, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

'fro lady offside again. Her name is Arakawa, but I like to type 'fro lady.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

US should try to calm down a bit...attacking like they are losing 1-4...

Posted by: RK | August 18, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Japan off the x-bar

Lloyd runs straight at the GK, but she makes the save.

Hope stops another on the line.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Dan - thanks for the great reporting, and Happy Birthday! Please do this again for the final!

Posted by: jhorstma | August 18, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse


Beijing Sports Smog :)

Posted by: RK | August 18, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Dan!

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Yes we are going to need Scurry for her famous reaction-type saves against Brazil. It will take a miracle to beat Brazil.

Posted by: Eugene | August 18, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Dan, your live blog is almost the BBC level. Nice job and look forward to the final live blog.
So is this the most exciting event you have attended and the most fans attended?

Posted by: arlington4united | August 18, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

where is Greg Ryne? It is time to bench Hope Solo and bring Scurry...

Posted by: td | August 18, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

When is the game against Brazil going to be?

Posted by: David | August 18, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

David: The final is Thursday at 9:00 a.m. EDT, and will be shown on basic cable on USA, as well as those specialty channels that are available to people who have far fancier cable/satellite packages than I.

Posted by: tri-village | August 18, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong I want the US to win against Brazil, but we are going to need a miracle to beat Brazil. Did anyone see the Brazil/germany game.

Posted by: acer1 | August 18, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

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