Order was restored in women’s international soccer as the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Brazil in their second game of the Kirin Cup in Chiba, Japan. Coming off a 1-1 draw against the Japanese squad only two days ago, the US women were forced to regroup quickly to face the team they narrowly beat in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
This game hardly packed the drama of that historic game as the US won easily 3-0. The game originally was scheduled at 8pm local time but due to incoming inclement weather the game was moved up four hours. The change had little effect on the US as they controlled the ball much more efficiently than in their previous game against Japan.
It only took until the 18th minute when the US capitalized on a free kick by Christie Rampone that Carli Lloyd sent into the right side of the net. It was barely five minutes later in the 23rd minute when Shannon Boxx also scored off of a free kick by Lauren Cheney. It was the 23rd career goal for Boxx and first in over a year.
Brazil playing without their superstar Marta who had obligations with her Swedish Club, was sluggish through the first forty-five minutes but found more of a rhythm in the second half. Hope Solo hardly found herself pressed in this game though with the biggest opportunity coming by Rosana in the 48th minute when she had an open look on goal only to take a shot that went wide.
The US team started the same eleven that saw most of the action against Japan though this game saw many more substitutions by Coach Pia Sundhage. Obviously still tinkering with the line up that she wants to use in London for the 2012 Olympics, Sundhage was much more liberal with her substitutions. The second half saw substitutions that brought in Megan Rapinoe, Amy Rodriguez. Heather Mitts, Becky Saurbrunn and Tobin Heath. Rodriguez made the most of her time scoring in the 83rd minute off of another free kick.
Alex Morgan coming off of the lone goal against Japan did manage to find the back of the net with a header in the 68th minute but it was reversed due to an off-sides call. Abby Wambach also had several missed opportunities including in the very first minute when she nearly scored but saw the ball deter off of the crossbar.
Coach Sundhage had this to say about the game. “Playing against Brazil is always good. I think in the first half the speed of play was good and we scored two good goals on set pieces, which is something we talk about and prepare the team for. At halftime, we made some changes because we wanted some players to get some minutes against a very good team. Overall, I am happy with the tournament. Playing Japan and Brazil in April as preparation for the Olympics is very good for this team.”
Sundhage has some tough choices ahead of her as she only has a few more months before she needs to cut her roster down to eighteen players for the Olympics. Though not as obvious in this game as in the game against Japan, but the back line is still in need of some adjusting. The loss of defender Ali Krieger to injury has left a huge void that the US is still struggling to fill. There will also need to be cuts made to the midfield that at times struggles to gel together as a unit.
The next action for the U.S. WNT will be in Chester, PA on May 27th when they host China in one of their last exhibitions before the Olympics this summer.