USA versus Japan Women’s World Cup Pregame Thoughts


USA can possess against Japan because they defend in numbers through compactness not through individual physical pressure.

 The psychological advantage should be an advantage for the US because they think that they are good. They also beat Japan’s soundly multiple times in the run up to the tournament. Granted it was during the tsunami tour of the United States while they were just trying to get their act together, but losing to a team sticks in your head.

I like the small tactical change with Cheney up front: she has been involved with or created just over 50% of all USA attacks. Unfortunately Rodriguez hasn’t been as successful as her potential has suggested. Morgan should get more of a run out.

I am curious why Buehler has been put into the game coming off for a red card. Her nickname is the Buehldozer.  It is a good move to swap her with Rampone (should have been done at the very least against Sweden) and so the two slowest players are split apart on the defense. The question I have is why, against an agile technical small team Pia put in large slow players that are not able to keep up quickness wise. It seems quick players will be able to get around slow lumbering defenders and win free kicks or penalties I think Krieger/Sauerbrunn/Rampone/Cox (or Mitts) would be a good backline. Remember, Sauerbrunn/Rampone and Solo play together at the club level, so it is not unusual for them. The Cox /Mitts on the outside would provide additional quickness and veteran savvy.

It seems that there is a similar problem in the midfield where Lloyd and Boxx are heavy hitters not dancers. They also lead the team in turnovers and (Lloyd in shots 20 yds over the goal). Why not play possession and skill capable centermids of Lindsey/Cheney with O’Rielly and Rapinoe/Heath on the outsides.

I watched a Japanese academy team at the 2011 Disney showcase in January play a team from Ohio. The Japanese dominated the possession, but Ohio scored because of superior athleticism on counter attacks. It ended in a tie. I think the US can win if they are organized defensively.


Japan is playing the best soccer of the tournament is the most attractive soccer in terms of style because it is possession oriented. Japan takes advantage of the fact that they have the technical players.

They are also an excellent team on free kicks, but remain underrated in that area because of the ‘size’ issue. Soccer is mostly played on the ground. As long as gravity doesn’t change the ball will be near feet most of the time.

Japan scouts like crazy and analyzes their opponents well. Their in game changes versus Sweden were great. First, possession up the middle, then tried to play up the wings and pull them wide, and last of all quick strikes/counter long. Masterful coaching and execution.

It seems like Japan is just happy to be there because their goal was to have a good run in the tournament to provide inspiration to their country.

Japan seems like they have a good model for the future in that they have improved significantly in the last eight years. That rise has been matched by the increase in talents in Brazil, France, and somewhat by the skilled attacking players Germany has also produced (but they were already good).

I think Japan can win if they have superior possession and expose the slower players the US is playing on Defense.


It’s too bad the announcing team wasn’t switched to Adrian Healey and Kate Markgraf  (I believe that’s the duo from the 3rd place game and alternate broadcasts) they didn’t bring a lot to the table, but at least don’t take anything off the table. Chastain, Whitehill, and Ferguson did well in their secondary roles. The best current player interview was O’Reilly prior to the 3rd place game. She would be a good choice to groom for future announcing roles. Edit post WWC: Solo and Morgan showed on the various ESPN shows that they aren’t announcers.

On the other hand, Ian Darke and Julie Foudy are abysmal and definitely take things off the table. It ruins a potentially great game to have them announce it.

Bob Ley needs to swing the studio announcing duties between in-studio hosts and field site. Simple. Stop interjecting when you don’t know what you are talking about. Rebecca Lowe did an excellant job in this role prior to the third place game. Fans watch soccer and don’t want broadcasters getting in the way of sport.

DiCicco I like particularly because he talks about what coaches are feeling pregame and halftime changes/team talks and things of that ilk. Maybe it is just my interest as a coach.

I’ve liked Pia’s tactical changes, but the question I have is similar to Bob Bradley “It’s great you saw the need and fixed it correctly, but why wouldn’t you just start out that way?”

My impression is that Pia does not seem to be a highly tactical coach or else doesn’t scout a lot? She has been willing to fix some of her mistakes and done a good job in game (like a player reading the flow). She seems to be much more of a mental coach in trying to get the players in the right frame of mind so they can perform and in that sense I think she’s done a good job of relieving the pressure and focus on the team’s ability/style of play.



Janet Rayfield of the University of IL via the NSCAA had match analysis from the two Japan v USA tsunami tour games. She noticed the technical ability. Ahe also has Japan as a more aggressive/troublesome defensive team than I have noticed. Good stuff. Edit post WWC: She noticed precision on set plays for Japan.

Rayfield Game notes USAvJapan Match 1 May 14 (pdf)

Rayfield Game Notes USAvJapan Match 2 May 18 (pdf)

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 17th, 2011 at 14:24 and is filed under Coaching. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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