U.S. women settle for third-place game after Algarve Cup loss to Japan

Japan (Reuters Pictures)

Japan just has the U.S. women's national team's number at the moment.

In their first meeting since the dramatic World Cup final that Japan won in penalty kicks, Japan topped the U.S. women 1-0 in the final group game of the Algarve Cup on Monday, preventing the Americans from a place in the championship game for the first time in 10 years and dealing them their first shutout in 58 matches.

All the U.S. women needed to reach the final was a draw after entering the match tied with Japan on points in Group B but ahead on goal differential. With Japan's possession-oriented game stifling the Americans' potent attack, it looked as if a scoreless draw was in the cards until Megume Takase scored on a header off a corner kick in the 84th minute.

The U.S. women will play Sweden — U.S. manager Pia Sundhage's native country and another team that beat the United States at the World Cup — in Wednesday's third-place game. As for Japan, the United States will get another crack at its nemesis on April 1 in the opening match of the three-team Kirin Challenge Cup that takes place on Japanese soil.

Highlights from the match and postgame reaction are after the jump:

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24 Responses to U.S. women settle for third-place game after Algarve Cup loss to Japan

  1. Gnarls says:

    Man, Japan has our number.

  2. Jdub says:

    Why was no one on the back post on Japan’s goal?

  3. jbrader says:

    Couldn’t buy a goal!
    No one on the post off a corner?
    Miss krieger.

  4. marco says:

    The comments from the coach and players after the game were more disturbing for me. “Japan is the best”, we can’t compete, etc. If the coach and players feel that way, perhaps they should resign.

    This was reminiscent of comments made by Sunil and Rongen after an early round loss at a youth WC. Paraphrase, the USA can’t compete with world soccer powers and their technical ability. This was the same year than non-powers Korea, and Switzerland made the final four.

    Japan, Switzerland, Korea are not soccer powers but they are competing against those that are. Coaches who feel the USA can’t compete should resign.

  5. christian says:

    Looks like Japan got lucky again..Alex Morgan had her chances for sure.

  6. Mig22 says:


    Rapinoe (who I just love): “I can’t believe we lost again to people with worse hair than Wambach”

  7. The Imperative Voice says:

    Amen. I can talk til I am blue in the face about “use Morgan,” too much low-percentage USA kickball, and how the Japanese were killing them on the flanks, but in the end that didn’t cost them and it came down to a basic tactical error.

  8. The Imperative Voice says:

    It didn’t look like a technique problem to me, it looked like defensive speed and hoofball tactics.

  9. M says:

    Perfect time for a new coach

  10. chuck says:

    I know not every coach sticks a player on the back post, but here is Exhibit A on why to do it.

  11. Mig22 says:

    I’m thinking that since Japan keeps winning against the US and everybody else too, that, it’s not really so much about luck.

  12. Mig22 says:

    It may be. Nothing wrong with Pia but it may be time to change it up just for a fresh perspective.

  13. XPK says:

    Except that in the world of sport, right now, Japan is the best. They’ve beaten the USA twice. So yes, Japan is the best and I see no reason why players/coaches pointing out this fact is “disturbing” or should force anyone to “resign”.

  14. JW says:

    Almost a haiku…

    Could not buy a goal!
    Post empty off the corner?
    Where were you Miss Krieger?

  15. marco says:

    Exactly right. If you keep stating the other side is better, we can’t compete, what can I do, perhaps you should step aside.

  16. predicto says:

    It seems Japan & the Korea’s (and lesser extent the rest of Asia) have converted themselves into ball control, technical, tika-taka passing style countries. Both men and women. How have they done it? But I know I’m impressed with their play.

  17. marco says:

    When its said to cover for your own shortcomings it is disturbing. The quotes I gave with Sunil and Rongen were perfect examples, of pure CYA.

  18. predicto says:

    I remember that Pia was brought in to change the USWNT style away from Ryan’s direct ball approach to a more balanced technical passing game. Sounds alot like JK’s mission with the men too. Problem is that japan has done it faster and better.

  19. Polo says:

    Pia once again put out slow wingers that plod around and long ball.

    Her tactical decisions have killed the United States in important matches. We are just lucky to have some players that are so much better than the average women’s team that those mistakes are overshadowed.

  20. WK says:

    this would be a non-issue, if the coach had changed her game tactics during the second half. EVERYONE knew we only needed a draw (and a goalless one would’ve been fine) but our team kept pressing, got tired, and lost their shape. Poor game management should have given way to ‘tournament’ mode in order to get through to the final.

  21. Jeff says:

    I say bring back Anson Dorrance. If he can’t light a fire under them for the Olympics then it ain’t gonna happen period. If they don’t come out like screamming eagles in the Olympics then I will know it’s a coaching problem. It’s not like Japan is killing us in these games. Our talent is right there with them.

  22. Turd bradley says:

    They lost because all they do is kick and run. Japan trys to actually play soccer and pass and move with the ball on the floor. This should be obvious. If they actually wanted to play soccer Abby Wambach would never be called into any camp because she has the technical ability of most u10 boys.

    In japan they are teaching the girls the game. Not so sure what we are teaching here

  23. XPK says:

    I don’t see the quotes from the same perspective I guess. I can understand folks being upset with the result, it just seems a bit over the top to suggest players/coaches resign because they admit that Japan was the better team.

  24. marco says:

    Can’t compete?