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Post-Match Quotes: U.S. WNT 1, Japan 1

Post-match quotes from the U.S. WNT’s 1-1 draw against Japan in the Kirin Challenge Cup on Sunday

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U.S. head coach PIA SUNDHAGE

On the match:
“It was a very important game for us. I am really happy with the difference between the first and second half and the fact that we changed our playing style a little. It was way too much defending in the first half because we gave away the ball. In the second, I think we had a little more composure and it looked a little bit better.”

On whether the U.S. team did not look as strong as in the World Cup Final and if the Americans held back a little so as to prepare for a possible meeting at the Olympics:
“The first comment, I agree, we didn’t look as good as we looked in the World Cup. On number two, no, because we try to improve certain things. What is interesting, we try to defend against a very technical team and I think we did a fairly good job. But instead of talking about defending, it’s so important that when you play against Japan to keep the ball.”

On playing a poor first half and a better second half two games in a row against Japan:
“They are so excited and they try almost too hard. It’s very exciting to play against Japan so my job is to make sure we find the rhythm, but that we start the game not in the second half, but in the first half.”

On what she wants to improve between now and the Olympics:
“We have quite a few more trainings, weight lifting sessions and a couple more games before we go to the Olympics. In the second half, we did a couple of good things. We had the momentum, so we will go back to those things and look at the small details. We need to work on a little bit of speed of play and at receiving the ball when you are facing your own goal. But we have plenty of time and I am very happy that we got to play against one of the best teams in the world, Japan, in order to prepare for the Olympics.”

On the World Cup Final as compared to today’s match:
“I look at the World Cup where we played much better than Japan. Today, I think they kept possession way too easy in the first half and we gave the ball away all over the place and we weren’t patient enough. But in the second half, we had a couple of situations where we had them defending and then they looked at times average. The first pressure they put on us, they do a pretty good job, but if we can break that pressure and keep the ball in the attacking third, then we look dangerous.”

On the match:
“It was an important game for us and excellent environment. I am so grateful that we got this kind of game. We can learn from how we played in the first half and how we changed it in the second half. It is great when you have such a big crowd watching and cheering when it really matters, and today it did.”

U.S. goalkeeper HOPE SOLO

On the new rivalry with Japan:
“It’s a good, healthy rivalry. There’s been a lot rivalries in the past that have been ugly games, and you are going in hard for tackles and it might be a little cheap, but this is a rivalry in which both teams want to play to play good quality soccer and respect each other so much on the field. It’s more than a rivalry, it’s some of the best soccer you’ll see in the women’s game.”

U.S. forward ALEX MORGAN

On her goal:
“I didn’t get to see replay of the goal, but we were pressing them and we probably had most of the possession of the ball in the last 20 minutes and got some shots off, so we were feeling confident at that time.”

On the draw:
“Winning is always our goal, but at the same time we are fine with the result that we got. Our first half and second were a lot different. We went at them a little bit more in the second half, possessed a lot more and got some quality chances. I think we are fine with the result and this is always a building block going to the Olympics.”

On the new rivalry with Japan:
“It’s very recent, since Japan showed up during the World Cup and did great. Since then, they’ve really had a target on their backs. They’ve taken the target off our backs a little bit, but at the same time, it’s great to have a rivalry and we need to mentally prepare for each game we go against them. They are always on the top of their game and we need to be tactically aware of that and how to expose their weaknesses.”

On the match:
“Going into this game we wanted to put pressure on their defense and we wanted them to lose possession so we could possess the ball a little more, attack more fluidly. In the first half, we weren’t as successful as the second half, and you could see Japan got a little more frantic in the second half and we calmed down a little more. I think that’s where the goal came from, from our confidence and moving the ball a lot more.”

On playing in Sendai, a city and area that was severely impacted by the earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011:

“We really wanted to come here to Sendai and then to Chiba as well. We wanted to meet a lot of the Japanese people and we wanted to respect the culture and feel what they have gone though the past year. I am really happy to have played in front of this large of a crowd. The fans were great today and I hope it only continues to get better for the people in Sendai and all over Japan.”

U.S. midfielder HEATHER O’REILLY

On the match:
“I think yet again it was another great battle between the U.S. and Japan. They’ve proven themselves obviously in this last year as one of the top teams in the world, but there are a lot positives to take out of the draw. We did get a goal back from them, which was huge, and I think we pushed on a lot in the second half and maybe were unlucky not to get a winning goal.”

On the atmosphere around the match:
“This was an amazing environment to play in with 15,000 Japanese fans here. Just two of the best teams in the world battling it out in a preparation match leading to the Olympics. We don’t get many opportunities to play Japan in Japan in a great atmosphere like this. It was a lot of fun out there and I think our team will grow because of the experience.”


On the facing a talented Japanese side:
“Japan’s attack tonight, as always, was very good. They came at us time after time after time and I was very pleased with how the back line dealt with that pressure. Of course, Japan got a few chances here and there because they are a very good team, but I think overall we stayed together and we did a good job in our 1-v.-1 defending and marking in the box.”

On the atmosphere around the match:
“It was an awesome opportunity playing Japan in Japan to prepare for the Olympics. Great fans, a great environment, the field was slick and a fun surface to play on. These really high-level games are very important to us.”

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