CARSON, California – Two dramatic comebacks in one week?
Too much to ask.
The U.S. U17 Women’s National Team learned the hard way that you can’t fool an opponent twice with the same trick.
Especially not an opponent as quality as Japan. The Americans suffered a 2-1 defeat on Sunday in the final friendly match of their weeklong camp at the Home Depot Center.
It came three days after the U.S. had pulled a rope-a-dope against Japan, falling behind 2-0 before storming back to earn a 2-2 tie in the second half.
This time, the Americans tried to repeat the feat in an even shorter time span. It wasn’t until Summer Green scored on a penalty kick in the 70th minute, to cut the deficit to 2-1, that the U.S. side began to play a semblance of the soccer that coach Albertin Montoya had intended.
After 69 minutes of uninspired play, the U.S. finally showed a real pulse. In fact, the crowd of approximately 250 spectators thought the home side had tied the match on a bizarre play that saw Danica Evans block a clear from Japan’s goalkeeper before settling possession turning and firing a bullet into the back of the net.
The team and crowd celebrated wildly until a referee called the play off on an offside call.
In truth, the U.S. probably didn’t deserve a tie as they were soundly outplayed for the bulk of the match.
The first-half lineup that saw most of the action varied somewhat from Thursday’s match as Kayla Millis, defenders Havana McElvaine and Zoey Goralski along goalkeeper Carissa Miller were new inserts.
Green, Lauren Kaskie, Toni Payne, Morgan Stanton and Andi Sullivan resumed their roles as early attackers.
And while no one or two players were to blame, the unit as a whole was out of sync. Passes were inaccurate or ill-timed and possessions weren’t preserved.
Japan took a 1-0 lead in the opening half before going ahead 2-0 on a goal by Rika Masuya.
The score could’ve swelled much worse, but the U.S. made a few nice defensive stops in the final third and Japan created, but missed plenty of opportunities.
The silver lining performances for the Americans included Green, who is a strong and dangerous attacker. She set up her PK by stealing a possession from Japan and making a quick move into the box where she was taken down.
Evans was a factor at striker and had some good chances, while midfielder Arielle Ship pressured the ball hard and displayed a good work rate.
Kaskie had another solid match and played a few accurate services. Payne again showed flashes of offense and continued to prove one of the team’s most dynamic players.
If only the team could have risen to the challenge a little earlier.
U.S. U17 Women’s National Camp Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire South; Kennesaw, Ga.), Carissa Miller (Sereno FC; Cave Creek, Ariz.), Morgan Stearns (McLean Power; San Antonio, Texas)
DEFENDERS (9): Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Madeline Bauer (Slammers FC; Newport Beach, Calif.); Zoey Goralski (Chicago Botafogo; Naperville, Ill.), Olivia Hazelrigg (Sparta; Riverton, Utah), Lauren Kaskie (Heat FC; Las Vegas, Nev.), Havana McElvaine (Colorado Rush; Denver, Colo.), Sydney Myers (Black Diamond SC; Park City, Utah), Elizabeth Raben (Colorado Rush; Greenwood, Colo.), Morgan Reid (Chelsea Ladies; Cary, N.C.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Joanna Boyles (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C), Miranda Freeman (Lady Renegades SC; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Summer Green (Michigan Hawks; Milford, Mich.), Gabbi Miranda (Colorado Rush; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Arielle Ship (Real So Cal; Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Morgan Stanton (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)
FORWARDS (7): Emily Bruder (Utah Avalanche; Sandy, Utah), Cameron Castleberry (Chelsea Ladies; Raleigh, N.C.), Danica Evans (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Darian Jenkins (Sparta; Riverton, Utah), Kayla Mills (Slammers FC; West Covina, Calif.), Amber Munerlyn (So Cal Blues; Corona, Calif.), Toni Payne (Concorde Fire; Birmingham, Ala.).