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U.S. Meets Japan in Women's Soccer Semis (Live)

Greetings from a soggy and long-hot-shower humid Workers Stadium, where I've worked up up a pretty impressive sweat 30 minutes before gametime. The U.S. women are set to face Japan in what clearly shaped up as the less impressive semifinal, paling next to the Brazil-Germany matchup that just finished up. Brazil fell down an early goal, then scored four unanswered and should be heavy favorites against the winner of this one, at least based on what we've seen thus far.

Japan was the obvious upstart among the Final Four; German, Brazil and the U.S. have each reached the semifinals of three straight straight world championships. And after the U.S.'s path to the semis included relatively unimpressive one-goal victories over Japan and Canada (in extra time), there's a school of thought that Japan might finally break through the Germany-Brazil-U.S. triopoly in this game. On the other hand, if the U.S. can make it to the finals without the injured Abby Wambach, some will say that this tournament has been acceptable.

As for the crowd: TBD. When we got here there were thousands and thousands of empty seats, and that's not including the thousands of yellow shirt staged "fans," who are already making an unholy racket with their thunderstix. From where I sit (way down low, right on the mid-stripe), it's hard to see significant groups of either American or Japanese supporters, but the place is filling up nicely, and the streets outside were jammed when our bus rolled in. Of course, if China had made it past Japan in the quarters, it'd be a zoo, and some probably bought tickets hoping to see the Chinese here.

The U.S. trots out the same lineup it used against Canada in the quarters. Game-winning goal scorer Natasha Kai is once again on the bench. The Japanese have just one change from their lineup that faced the U.S. in group play, with midfielder Miyuki Yanagita (No. 5) out and Kyoko Yano (No. 14) in.

I really can't emphasize enough how humid it is right now. There are puddles ringing the field, and it feels like we might see some more. The temperature isn't oppressive, but it feels like you could reach out and squeeze water out of the air.

I'll provide updates in the text of this thread as the game progresses; please feel free to add your thoughts below. And while this isn't necessarily humorous at all, it's the rare event here that I actually care about on its own merits, so humor me.

8th minute: The U.S. has both scored and allowed shockingly early goals in this tournament, this time Japan got a corner kick in the first minute and created a quality scoring chance. The U.S. looked disjointed in the midfield and struggled to escape their zone in the first few minutes. The fans are clapping and thundersticking away, although it's tough to tell who they're rooting for.

The U.S. finally showed a bit of life in the 5th minute, with playmaker Carli Lloyd getting a look but failing to seriously test the Japanese keeper. Heather O'Reilly made a run on the ball a minute later, but fell down in traffic just in front of the net.

13th minute: I take back anything I said about the crowd; the place filled up nicely, and is easily the most crowded of any venue I've visited, for a game with no Chinese implications. The wave is in full effect.

The U.S. midfield has settled itself, and is finding seams in the Japanese defense. Lloyd has had luck on both sides. Lori Chalupny just broke free on the left side and blasted an awkward right-footed attempt wide on the near side.

16th minute: Lloyd is everywhere, just breaking up a Japanese chance on the other end. Another Japanese corner.

17th minute: Goal Japan. Kinga sends it through two U.S. players (including between Chalupny's legs), Tarpley keeps Ohno onside, and its a relatively easy finish from right in front of the net. Another first-half deficit. It's Ohno's second goal of the tournament, and the fourth allowed by the Americans.

21st minute: Ohno in space again, launches a diving bid that's saved by Hope Solo diving to her left. Could turn out to be a moment to remember. Suddenly we're up and down with action on both ends.

And the official cheer persons are banging on drums. Pretty good atmosphere here, even if the fans ARE fake. Americans will definitely have their chances in the final third; just a matter of finding a finisher.

26th minute: Dangerous cross by O'Reilly, with Fukumoto coming out to wrap up. U.S. comes right back with more heat, and again it's O'Reilly leading the charge. Amy Rodriguez's shot is harmless, though. How long until we see Kai?

38th minute: Japanese playing their quick-touch possession game outside the box, with Ohno looking crafty. Rodriguez struggling to create on her own. Offense keeps coming unglued several passes short of danger, and needs some sort of spark.

40th minute: And there's that spark, on a long throw from Solo that springs O'Reilly down the right side. She makes a great cross, Rodriguez lets it go through, and Angela Hucles calmly slots it home for her team-leading third of the tournament.

And now it's perfectly clear who the fans are rooting for: massively, overwhelming for the U.S. Booing every time Japan attacks, cheering every U.S. counter.

44th minute: Chalupny goal. Her first of the Olympics. She beat three defenders on a solo trip down the left side, sending a twisting drive over Fukumoto's head.

Halftime: And the crowd offers a big cheer for the Americans as they leave the field. U.S. runs off the field, with plenty of hugs from the bench, while the Japanese slowly trudge off. That's what you call a momentum switch.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 18, 2008; 8:39 AM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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Next: Women's Soccer: U.S. 4, Japan 2

Comments

Thanks for covering the game.

Posted by: Curious | August 18, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Its been unseasonably cool and dry in Washington for most of August, believe it or not. China can keep the humidity.

Looking forward to your game posts.

Posted by: Ron | August 18, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Japan applying the pressure early...

Posted by: RK | August 18, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Chalupny doesn't have a left foot, apparently...

Posted by: RK | August 18, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

This ref looks like the one from the WWC semi-final, who called the phantom foul on Boxx. Am I correct, or do they all look alike with the ponytail and headband?

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

How did a US Male short track speed skater make it onto the Japan Womens Olympic soccer team? And score a goal no less?

Posted by: Ron | August 18, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

nbcolympics.com says they have live streaming video but it actually is a picture of a circle going around entitled "buffering"

Posted by: Frustrated | August 18, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

If it's 1-1 at the half, Pia should put Kai in.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I'll admit I haven't watched much of the US women in these olympics... Thanks for covering some...
Too much booting of the long ball. very nice on the eyes though that #2.
Is it just me or does Hope Solo look like she got her hands on the Proactive Solution?
Go USA!

Posted by: dadryan | August 18, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Go figure why Kai rides the pine...

Posted by: Rob Iola | August 18, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

My guess is Sundhage uses Kai as a super-sub...

Posted by: Ron | August 18, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I take back anything I said about the crowd; the place filled up nicely, and is easily the most crowded of any venue I've visited,
===========
That's why this is the most popular sport on the planet. I am glad this year nBC is bringing them live. Finally got some sense.

Posted by: td | August 18, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

HUCLES.

Sweet run by O'Reilley. Center to Hucles. Open net.

I'll pu off my thoughts on when to bing in Kai.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

THANKS DAN for the live blog!!!!!

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

CHALUPNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Takes the ball on the left. Cuts inside through three THREE defenders. Slams the ball into the net.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Great comeback, and a real golazzo by Chalupny.

The Ref: 3 goals and no added time??? That doesn't bode well. I prefer someone who is a little more familiar with the rules and conventions of the game.

Posted by: JkR | August 18, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

And happy birthday Dan. Was this the Post's birthday present to you? Letting you get to cover an event you cared about?

Posted by: TG | August 18, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Stadium announcer incites the fans by giving them the medal standings. Not the overall standings, just the gold medal numbers, in which China leads.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Chalupny is making a good case for US Olympic MVP, regardless of how far the US goes.

Posted by: Ron | August 18, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Are they really playing the High School Musical song during halftime? That's what I hear thru the online feed. Who is programming the music at these venues?

Posted by: ACS | August 18, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Busy day for you Dan - 1st this then your "noon" chat (which is what, 2:25 am next Thursday Beijing time?) plus regular blog, er, bog, er, smog posting plus twittering...

Posted by: Rob Iola | August 18, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

As I was asked to do, I just posted a second-half thread. Let's take things over there, if you don't mind

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | August 18, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, CheeseBoy.

Posted by: Cindy | August 18, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for covering the game! I've been waiting for you to cover soccer for the past week! Good game to cover!

Posted by: kris | August 18, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

46' shot by Rodrigues. touched wide by the GK

Corner.cleared

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

As I was asked to do, I just posted a second-half thread. Let's take things over there, if you don't mind

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | August 18, 2008 10:00 AM
==========================================

I don't see the link.

Posted by: tri-village | August 18, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Gold medals are the only ones that count in the standings everywhere but the US. And I think that is reasonable. Silvers and Bronzes are just brownie-point consolation prizes. Though I wouldnt argue with a standings system that counted 10 points for each gold medal, 2 points for a silver and 1 point for a bronze. Haven't done the math but likely China would be ahead in that scenario as well.

Posted by: Ron | August 18, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

As I was asked to do, I just posted a second-half thread. Let's take things over there, if you don't mind

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | August 18, 2008 10:00 AM
=====================

Any link to this new thread?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Ron, furthermore, make it per capita ;)

Posted by: RK | August 18, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Yeah I'm an idiot, our new software confuses me and I've been publishing on a private thread. My bad. It's up now.

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

I don't see the second-half thread.
I'm not getting the NBC live thing either (cf. "Frustrated") -- of course I don't want to install the Starliter plugin deal (or whatever it is) for fear my DTS people in their bunker will take me down.
Fortunately I can watch down in our lobby.

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

I see it now.

Posted by: gringo | August 18, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

2nd half thread

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcsportsbog/2008/08/us_leads_japan_2-1_at_half_liv.html

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 18, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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