June 5, 2016
INCLEMENT IN CLEVELAND
U.S. Women win weather shortened game, 2-0
CLEVELAND - The U.S. Women's National Team defeated Japan 2-0 on goals from Julie Johnston and Alex Morgan in front of 23,535 fans - a record attendance for a WNT game in the State of Ohio - in a match that was abandoned in the 76th minute due to inclement weather.
After a 3-3 draw last Thursday in the teams' first meeting since the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Final, the USA put in a dominant performance in the second leg of this two-game set, controlling large swaths of the game and generating numerous goal scoring opportunities while holding firm defensively. The USA held Japan to just two shots on goal.
Johnston scored the game-winner in the 27th minute with her eighth career goal, all of set plays.
The U.S. won a free kick near the right sideline just inside Japan's half of the field that Morgan Brian sent toward the top of the penalty area. Ami Sugita miss-hit her attempted clearance and the ball fell to Megan Klingenberg, who tapped it back into the left side of the penalty area to Allie Long. Long dribbled into the box before whipping a low cross to the far post where Johnston had gotten in front of her marker to easily redirect the ball into the net.
Johnston also set up Morgan's goal, her team leading 11th of the year, sending a long ball over the Japan backline down the right wing for Crystal Dunn to run onto. Dunn sprinted into the attacked third and spun a first-time cross low across the face of goal for Morgan who slipped between a pair of Japan defenders to redirect the ball into the roof of the net for the game-capping goal.
The U.S. kept Japan goalkeeper Erina Yamane busy, starting in just the first minute, when Dunn got down the right side and picked out Christen Press, who was cutting into the box. Press saw her point blank shot saved by the on rushing Japan goalkeeper. The rebound fell to Morgan in the middle of the penalty area and her goal-bound shot hit teammate Allie Long. The USA got another crack at goal, but it was cleared away by a defender with Yamane still finding her footing after making the initial save.
Seven minutes later, Press got in behind the Japan defense down its left flank and cut past a defender before centering the ball for Long, who was making a trailing run out of midfield. Long had a good look at goal, but her low shot right at Yamane who was able to get down and smother.
Yamane made a full stretch save of a dipping shot by Morgan in the 46th, just managing to palm it away.
With the U.S. in control of the match, both teams began introducing numerous second half substitutions, but after playing almost the entire match under sunny skies, the weather abruptly took a turn for the worse and in the 76th minute the match officials were forced to send the players back to the locker room due to lightning and heavy rain. After a long delay, and with more bad weather rolling in, the matched was called off.
U.S. Soccer is awaiting final word from FIFA as to whether the match and all the statistics will count as official.
The U.S. WNT will finish its preparations for the 2016 Olympics in Rio next month, beginning with the first match in team history against South Africa at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 9 (12 p.m. CT; FS1). The team will play a second match later in July against an as yet to be announced opponent before departing for the Olympics.