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July 17, 2011
Stopping Japan will be chore for U.S.

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Defender Rachel Buehler says the U.S. knows what to expect from Japan in Sunday’s Women’s World Cup Final
Defender Rachel Buehler says the U.S. knows what to expect from Japan in Sunday’s Women’s World Cup Final
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Japan may be the surprise team of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but the United States, who will face the upstarts in the final on Sunday (2:00 pm ET), know the Nadeshiko very well, having beaten them twice in the run up to the World Cup, in Columbus, Ohio and Cary, NC.

“I think It’s been great that we faced Japan just recently,” said defender Rachel Beuhler “They’re an incredibly technical team, great passing game, crafty, just a very connected technical team, so its good for us to have seen that before.”

The United States won both the earlier encounters 2-0, and also beat Japan 2-1 in March at the Algarve Cup.

“Japan is such an incredibly technical team, and that is their game,” explained Buehler, who spent Wednesday’s game sitting out her red card suspension after being ejected in the win against Brazil.

“ They’re not sending in the kind of air balls and that kind of stuff. They are playing to their strength, which is their passing game and their skill on the ball. You always have to be aware of that aspect of their game and try to maybe break up their one-two passing or there is being careful on your feet and just being aware that they might try something tricky or crafty on the ball so, just having to know their strengths is what we have to be aware of.”

Japan has already pulled off what might be the upset of the tournament, knocking off two-time defending champion and host Germany in the quarterfinals 1-0 in extra time, before beating Sweden 3-1 in the semis.

“I think they have been one of the biggest surprise teams,” said defender Ali Krieger, whose penalty kick sealed the USA’s quarterfinal win over Brazil. “I know that before coming into the tournament that they were going to be very good. “

Kreiger thinks having played the two games in May against Japan will give the U.S. an advantage.

“Luckily we did have out two games with them before the tournament had begun, back in Columbus and Cary, North Carolina,” said Kreiger. “We beat them both games, 2-0 and luckily we had a chance to see how they play and get ourselves prepared.”

Because of their speed and passing skill, Japan are likely to stretch the U.S. backline, which often times in this tournament has looked slow.

“They are a technical team, very quick and crafty players, “ said Krieger “They move the ball very fast and so the speed of play is going to be a bit quicker. They like to play a passing game and I think we’re going to have to figure it out and be smart and communicate once again and defend as a collective group. It will be a great game, and luckily we know them pretty well, so hopefully we’ll be successful.”

Krieger said no matter who is in the backline, the key is Christie Rampone, the only member of the team who has previously won a World Cup.

“She is our go-to girl in the back, and she keeps us together,” said Krieger. “Obviously she is amazing as a defender and not only our captain, but she steers the team from the backline. I think that we just have great communication, and no matter who comes in, because we have such depth on this team, whoever replaces whoever, when Beuehler had the red card, Becky (Sauerbrunn) jumped in for this game and did an excellent job. I think as along as we have communication, we stay confident and we stay as a group and work together as a group, I think nothing can get past us.”

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