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March 2, 2010
Philly’s Rodriguez, Rapinoe lead U.S. over Japan

Boston Breakers' forward Lauren Cheney set up the first U.S. goal in a 2-1 win over Japan
Boston Breakers' forward Lauren Cheney set up the first U.S. goal in a 2-1 win over Japan
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
VILA REAL de SAN ANTONIO, Portugal– Amy Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe, who will both play for the Philadelphia Independence this season, each scored to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to a 2-1 win over Japan in its opening game of the 2011 Algarve Cup.

The USA’s first goal came just seven minutes into the game off a free kick from about 15 yards inside the USA’s half after Japan was called offside. U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart sent a driven service to Boston Breakers’ forward Lauren Cheney, who flicked it on with her head to Rodriguez and she collected at the top of the penalty area with her back to the goal. Rodriguez then spun to her right to lose her defender and struck a perfect left-footed shot that beat flying Japanese goalkeeper Miho Fukimoto into the lower right corner. It was the 15th career international goal for Rodriguez.

The American’s second goal came in the 18th minute after Sky Blue FC’s Heather O’Reilly burst past her defender into the right side of the penalty box and cut a cross on the ground to Rapinoe who did not give Fukimoto time to react, spinning her first-time shot into the net from seven yards out just past the goalkeeper’s feet. It was Rapinoe’s ninth career international goal.

“It was a good start and in the first 45 minutes we played some very good soccer,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “Heather O’Reilly had a good game, and we looked dangerous at times. We played some good one-touch soccer and got some good rhythm against a very good team in Japan. In the second half, there was a little bit of a difference, and you could see how good they are in keeping possession, but I still felt we controlled the game because of our defense.”

Japan’s lone goal came off a set play in the 29th minute after O'Reilly chopped down Yuki Nagasato just outside the penalty area on the left side when the Japanese forward made a nice dribbling run. Aya Miyama, who played for the Los Angeles Sol and the St. Louis Athletica in WPS, hit a perfect free kick, spinning the ball off the crossbar and right post and bouncing it down over the goal line. U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart had no chance.

The U.S. defense only allowed the Japanese three shots on goal. Japan’s best chance, besides its goal, came in the 17th minute when Yuki Nagasato met a cross that Barnhart pushed off the left post.

The U.S. had two chances hot off the woodwork. In the 35th minute, Carli Lloyd’s header off a corner kick from Rapinoe smacked squarely off the middle of the bar, and then in the 39th minute Rapinoe herself lifted a shot over Fukimoto from the left side of the penalty area, but it hit the right post and bounced away.

The USA will now face long-time rival Norway on Friday, March 4, in its second Group A match that kicks off at 10 a.m. ET. Fans can follow the game on’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.

Scoring Summary:
USA – Amy Rodriguez (Lauren Cheney) 7th minute
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Heather O’Reilly) 18
JPN – Aya Miyama 29

USA: Nicole Barnhart; Ali Krieger,Christie Rampone (capt.), Rachel Buehler, Stephanie Cox; Heather O’Reilly, Shannon Boxx (Lori Lindsey, 71), Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe (Tobin Heath, 46); Lauren Cheney (Abby Wambach, 46), Amy Rodriguez (Alex Morgan, 63)

JPN: Miho Fukimoto; Yukari Kinga, Azusa Iwashimizu, Saki Kumagai, Kyoko Yano (Aya Sameshima, 44); Homare Sawa (capt.), Aya Miyama, Rumi Utsugi (Mizuho Sakaguchi, 79), Kozue Ando (Eriko Arakawa, 56);Shinobu Ohno Nahomi Kawasumi, 76), Yuki Nagasato (Megumi Takase, 76)

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