LEROUX SCORES AS U.S. WNT SETTLES FOR 1-1 TIE WITH JAPAN
TO OPEN 2014 ALGARVE CUP IN PORTUGAL
- Sydney Leroux's 27th International Goal Comes Off Block of Japan Goalkeeper Clearance
- USA Out-Shoots Japan 20-8, Japan Captain Aya Miyama Equalizes with Late Free Kick
- WNT Will Face Sweden on March 7 in Albufeira, Portugal, in Second Group B Match
PARCHAL, Portugal (March 5, 2014) - The U.S. Women's National Team certainly did enough to win, but had to settle for a 1-1 drawagainst Japan in the first Group B match for both teams at the 2014 Algarve Cup.
Up next for the USA will be Sweden on March 7 in Albufeira, Portugal (8:30 a.m. ET), in a match that will have major implications for the USA's Algarve Cup championship game aspirations. The team must win the group to advance to the final. Fans can follow USA-Sweden on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and watch highlights on ussoccer.com.
Despite creating the vast majority of dangerous scoring chances, the USA's lone goal was a bit quirky, coming in the 59th minute when forward Sydney Leroux slid to block a clearance from Japan goalkeeper Erina Yamane, and the ball bounced back into the open net.
Just moments after Leroux had sprinted down the right wing and passed back to Christen Press, whose shot was saved by Yamane, the Japan goalkeeper received a pass back from her centerback and was just a bit too casual for the speedy Leroux, who sprinted hard at the 21-year-old 'keeper from her left side and managed to ricochet the attempted clearance into the net from 12 yards out.
While the goal was unusual, the USA certainly deserved it and perhaps a few more. In fact, the U.S. put the ball into the Japan net just 72 seconds into the match, when Leroux's shot hit a defender and bounced to Carli Lloyd, who finished her volley well from an offside position. Lloyd led a U.S. midfield that won numerous balls in dangerous spots, allowing the American counter-attack to flourish while putting Japan's back line on their heels for most of the game.
Leroux had a chance off a right-side cross from Ali Krieger in the 12th minute that was going to stick into the upper right corner, but the 6-foot-1 Yamane palmed the shot up into the air, and it was headed off the line by a Japan defender.
In the 22nd minute, Heather O'Reilly darted past a defender into the right side of the penalty box and dribbled almost all the way to the near post, but her cross into a crowded goal mouth was cleared.
Leroux had a multitude of chances in both halves. In the 29th minute, she out-muscled a defender into the right side of the penalty area, but stuck her shot into the side-netting outside the right post. The USA counter-attacked with tremendous speed, creating numerous dangerous situations down the wings and in the 32nd minute, O'Reilly got free down the left, but her cross on the ground just eluded Leroux who was sliding through the goal box.