Holden Strikes USA Past Japan

USA 1-0 Japan

The United States dealt a 1-0 shock defeat to Japan in the opening Group B match of the 2008 Beijing Olympics football tournament at the Tianjin International Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

A 47th minute goal from Stuart Holden gave the Americans a crucial win over the Japanese.

The two teams, grouped together in Group B with Nigeria and Holland, battled hard under the sweltering heat, with temperatures reaching nearly 35 degrees Celsius.

Japan, arguably Asia’s most successful team on the Olympic Football stage, haveing appeared seven times in the tournament, went into the match as favourites. Having easily brushed aside the likes of Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Qatar during the qualifying rounds, the Japanese were expected to give USA a stiff challenge.

First Half

United States, who reached the semi-finals during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, started the match cautiously. Coach Peter Nowak positioned veteran Brian McBride as the solitary forward upfrontwith Freddy Adu playing just behind him.

The young Americans soon took the game to Japan, with midfielder Stuart Holden testing Japan keeper Shusaku Nishikawa on 11 minutes.

United States then earned a free-kick just outside the penalty box and the Houston Dynamo player whipped his shot into the box, which was punched out by Nishikawa.

Spurred on by their dominance in the match, United States started to probe forward through midfielders Robbie Rogers and Michael Bradley. They would, though, miss a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 14th minute.

Chivas USA attacking midfielder Sacha Kljestan intercepted a loose ball in the centre of the pitch, made a surging run towards the Japan box and sliced a pinpoint pass into Bradley. The Heerenveen midfielder directed the ball into the path of McBride, who blasted the ball over the upright.

Japan tested the United States defence on 20 minutes when a Keisuke Honda corner found Masato Morishige. The defender headed the ball down for Atsuto Uchida, which caused confusion among the American defenders, but the Kashima Antlers player could only fire his shot wide.

19 minutes later, the Japanese had another opportunity to go ahead when Shinji Kagawa showcased an impressive burst of pace down the right flank to deliver a pass into the United States box. With goalkeeper Brad Guzan beaten, though, Uchida shot wide.

Second Half

With the first 45 minutes ending goalless, the United States and Japan seemingly unable to break the deadlock. The spectators at the Tianjin International Stadium were in for a surprise two minutes after the re-start.

Marvell Wynne’s strong run down the right beat Japan captain Hiroki Mizumoto and the Toronto FC defender crossed the ball into the penalty box, where Holden moved into the position to power his shot past the helpless Japan custodian Shusaku Nishikawa.

Holden’s goal proved the turning point in the match, for Japan sprang back to life and would threaten the US on several occasions.

But with an off-colour Takayuki Morimoto failing to convert the chances, the United States defence held on strongly to clinch a morale-boosting victory over Japan.

With three points in the bag, United States coach Peter Nowak and his charges will face off against Holland on Sunday with their sights on getting a positive result against the Dutch.


Japan: Nishikawa, Mizumoto (capt), Nagamoto, Morishige, Uchida, K Honda, Kajiyama (Tadanari 64), Taniguchi, Kagawa (Okazaki 83), T Honda, Morimoto (Toyoda 72)

United States: Guzan, Wynne, Orozco, Parkhurst, Bradley, Edu, Holden (Feilhaber 82), Rodgers (Szetela), Kljestan, Adu, McBride (Altidore 74)

Stuart Holden give USA their win over Japan at their opening game of group B.

Holden Strikes USA Past Japan Reviewed by admin Ucop on 11:35 PM Rating: 5

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