COMMERCE CITY, Colorado (June 2, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team fought back from an early 2-0 deficit to take a late lead only to see Japan score a late equalizer in a thrilling 3-3 draw before a sold out crowd of 18,572 fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Japan took a surprising 2-0 lead midway through the first half as Mana Iwabuchi’s excellent shot from distance in the 14th minute and captain Yuki Ogimi’s sliding effort in the 22nd put the U.S. WNT in a two-goal hole at home for the first time in 117 matches.
Undaunted by Japan’s high pressing game, the WNT struck back through Alex Morgan just before halftime. The USA’s current goals leader in 2016 then equalized midway through the second half after Japan had been reduced to 10 players due to Ogimi being ejected for a second bookable offense.
With momentum on its side, the U.S. pressed for the winner and thought they had found it in the 89th minute when second-half sub and Denver native Lindsey Horan scored on her homecoming. The celebration was cut short however as Japan grabbed a late goal through Kumi Yokoyama for the final score line.
The U.S. WNT returns to the pitch in three days for the second leg of its two-game set vs. Japan on June 5 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
JPN – Mana Iwabuchi (Mizuho Sakaguchi) 14th minute: An early spell of possession for Japan led to what seemed to be an innocuous attack when Sakagguchi fed Iwabuchi outside the top right corner of the USA’s penalty area. Cutting inside away from two U.S. defenders, Iwabuchi uncorked a stinging effort that arched over the outstretched arm of driving U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo and into the upper left corner. USA 0, JPN 1
JPN – Yuki Ogimi (Emi Nakajima), 22nd minute: Japan attacked down the USA’s right flank and sent the ball out wide to Nakajima, who bent a cross into the six-yard box where the onrushing Ogimi lost her marker and slide hard to hit a first time shot into the lower left corner. USA 0, JPN 2
USA – Alex Morgan (Mallory Pugh), 27th minute: Julie Johnston initiated a flowing team sequence by finding Crystal Dunn with a pass at midfield. Dunn turned up the field and played a well-weighted chip into the path of Pugh down the right side. The 18-year-old Denver native raced past her defender and cut towards goal near the end line before finding Morgan on a trailing run with a quick pass. Morgan timed her run perfectly and powered her shot under Japan goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita. USA 1, JPN 2
USA – Alex Morgan (Tobin Heath), 64th minute: From a free kick on the right wing, Heath served in a perfect bending ball that Morgan met at the top of the six-yard box. Out-leaping her marker, Morgan sent a strong header on target that Yamashita got a hand to but was unable to keep out of the net. USA 2, JPN 2
USA – Colorado native Lindsey Horan (Kelley O’Hara), 89th minute: The USA broke quickly through midfield as second half sub Samantha Mewis found O’Hara making a run on the left wing. O’Hara took a controlling touch before lofting the ball toward the penalty spot. Horan beat a defender and the goalkeeper to the ball and headed home into the open net. USA 3, JPN 2
JPN – Kumi Yokoyama (Mizuho Sakaguchi) 94th minute: Despite being a player down and just conceding what looked to be the winning goal to the USA, Japan fought back to level terms on the final offensive thrust of the match. A neat passing sequence saw Sakaguchi receive the ball in the middle of the field and then picked up her second assist of the evening by slipping a pass behind the U.S. defense to Yokoyama, who took a touch and sent a well-placed strike low into the left corner for the final equalizer. USA 3, JPN 3 FINAL
Next on the Schedule: The U.S. WNT and Japan face off the second time in quick succession on June 5 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio (12 p.m. ET; ESPN2).