After an exciting 3-3 draw against Japan on Thursday, which saw the Nadeshiko equalize in the waning seconds of stoppage time, the U.S. Women's National Team again faces the technical Japanese side in a second international friendly today. The game kicks off at 10:00 a.m. PT and airs on ESPN2.
In the first match, Japan surprised the U.S. with significant high pressure, and it worked for most of the first half. The U.S. side scrambled and fumbled under pressure, giving up two goals in the first 22 minutes of the match. Despite an Alex Morgan goal in the 27', Japan continued to disrupt USA's ability to create any rhythm and maintain possession.
It wasn't until the second half that the U.S. was able to break down Japan's defense and find two goals, scored by Alex Morgan and Lindsey Horan. A second yellow for a late challenge from behind also sent Yuki Ogimi off in the 57', but perhaps some of Japan's defensive breakdown was due to the fact that new Seattle Reign FC player, Rumi Utsugi, came out at halftime.
The question today is whether Japan can continue their high-pressure defense, just three days after playing at altitude in Colorado. And, if they do, can the U.S. adapt early and make Japan scramble and adjust?
It would be nice to see U.S. Coach Jill Ellis make some adjustments today. In particular, while Seattle Reign FC goalkeeper Hope Solo is one of the best in the world, her primary backups -- Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher -- have just 14 caps between the two of them. Should they be relied on during the Olympics, fans would feel more comfortable if either player had more recent international experience under their belts.
If their first encounter is any indication, today's match should provide some quality soccer and a few beautiful goals. What more could you want?
How to Watch
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium; Cleveland, Ohio
Time/Date: Sunday, June 5, 2016, 10:00 a.m. PT kickoff
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