【Match Report】Nadeshiko Japan lose second straight after defeat to World Champions USA
20 February 2023
On Sunday 19 February, the Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women's National Team) faced the USA Women's National Team in their second match of the SheBelieves Cup, where they lost 0-1.
Following their 0-1 defeat to Brazil on Thursday, head coach IKEDA Futoshi started YAMASHITA Ayaka in goal with KUMAGAI Saki, MINAMI Moeka, and MIYAKE Shiori forming the three-back defence line. NAGANO Fuka and HASEGAWA Yui continued to be named as the two defensive midfielders, while IWABUCHI Mana was given her first start of the competition along with UEKI Riko and FUJINO Aoba upfront.
Japan displayed great aggression from the early minutes, as they fiercely chased the ball from the frontline. In the fourth minute, Ueki connected with a cross delivered by SHIMIZU Risa to strike a header, but her attempt went wide of the US goal. The home side came within inches to take the lead in the 14th minute, when a cross delivered by Lynn WILLIAMS drifted towards the Japanese goal, but Yamashita was able to get a slight touch on the ball to redirect it off the cross bar. Ueki tried her luck from outside the box in the 25th minute, but her shot was just wide of the target. Although it was Japan who controlled the ball possession in the first half, USA scored the opening goal in the 45th minute, when Mallory SWANSON responded to a through ball sent by Alex MORGAN and won the foot race against Miyake to send the ball in the back of the net.
Despite conceding the lead just before halftime, Japan continued to be the aggressor in the second half, as Hasegawa and Fujino kept the ball moving in midfield to setup chances, including the header struck by SUGITA Hina in the 61st minute. In efforts to find the equaliser, Japan sent HAMANO Maika and ENDO Jun off the bench in the 67th minute, before introducing TAKARADA Saori and MIYAZAWA Hinata in the 73rd minute. Gaining momentum from these substitutions, Japan created more chances in the closing minutes, including the shot taken by Nagano in the 79th minute, and the attempt made by Hasegawa to redirect the cross of Miyazawa in the 82nd minute, but the former struck the cross bar while the latter was saved by the opposing goalkeeper. The US almost came away with another goal scored from a counterattack in the 83rd minute, when Trinity RODMAN responded to a long feed delivered by Kristie MEWIS, but the shot taken by Rodman went straight to the hands of Yamashita. Japan’s last opportunity came during additional time, when Hamano sent a pass into the box to setup the shot of Endo, but her attempt was saved by the US goalkeeper. Despite taking 15 shots, three times as many as the USA, Japan suffered their second consecutive defeat with a final score of 0-1.
The Nadeshiko Japan will now travel to Frisco, Texas, ahead of their third match against the Canada Women's National Team on Wednesday 22 February.
Coach and Players' Comments
IKEDA Futoshi, Head Coach of Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women's National Team)
Facing the reigning FIFA Women's World Cup™ champions, we prepared ourselves while monitoring the players’ conditions. The team has made significant progress throughout the process, so it is unfortunate that we are unable to celebrate our success with a win. We are disappointed in the outcome because goals are necessary to win in football, but I believe we should also take heart from the fact that we have reached the final phase of our team's development. I will continue to demand our players to be aggressive in the final third.
DF #19 TAKARADA Saori (Linkopings FC/Sweden)
The team was trailing by a goal when I entered the game, but we were playing with good rhythm, so I focused on creating chances while maintaining that rhythm going. In order to help our offence generate more opportunities up front, I was instructed to be alert for the opponent's counterattacks and try to serve quality passes. Similar to the match against Brazil, we created plenty of chances, but couldn’t capitalise on them, which exposed our inability to score goals. We certainly don’t want to go home empty handed, so we will get ourselves on the same page and give it our all to score goals in our third match.
MF #14 HASEGAWA Yui (Manchester City/England)
If you look at the end result, it was the same as the match against Brazil, but compared to our previous matches against the USA, this was perhaps the best match we have played. I feel frustrated and take responsibility as a member of the offensive line for the fact that we were held scoreless because it was a match we ought to have won. With the team playing a three-back formation, Fuka and I were able to position ourselves well and take advantage of the open space to create chances from midfield. We made adjustments to our offence during the game, and I don't think we should be overly dejected about the lack of goals. However, we still need to produce better results, so we must play with a sense of urgency in our upcoming match.
MF #20 FUJINO Aoba (Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza)
This was a match we should have won, especially after conceding a goal from one of the few chances our opponents created. I don’t know how to put it into words, but we need to score goals to win matches and it is also true that we still have lots of work to do. Despite having only two days to prepare, we managed to make proper adjustments from our last match. I feel like we could have achieved the desired outcome if we had only taken advantage of our opportunities. We focused on possessing the ball with composure and finishing our plays with a shot. We need to be able to score goals when we have control of the game. It goes without saying that we cannot afford to give up the lead and momentum to our opponents from just one counterattack.
2023 SheBelieves Cup
Tournament Dates: Thu. 16 - Wed. 22 February 2023
Venue: Exploria Stadium, GEODIS Park, Toyota Stadium (USA)
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