Two first-half goals seal U.S. victory over Japan, but Americans lose Tarpley to ACL injury

Abby Wambach redirected a service from Ali Krieger off a set piece, and Amy Rodriguez put the finishing touches on a great buildup by Heather O’Reilly and Wambach to give the U.S. all it needed to defeat Japan, 2-0, Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio. But, unfortunately the U.S. was dealt a major blow as midfielder Lindsay Tarpley, who came on as a sub in the second half, tore her ACL in her right knee and will miss the 2011 Women’s World Cup. 

Japan came out strong in the early going, but couldn’t get any great looks on goal. Yuki Nagasato, who plays in Germany’s Bundesliga for Turbine Potsdam and Kozue Ando (who also plays in Bundesliga, for FCR 2001 Duisburg), and captain and former Washington Freedom forward Homare Sawa (INAC Kobe Leonessa), created chances, but the U.S. back line of Krieger, Rachel Buehler (Boston Breakers), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), and Becky Sauerbrunn (magicJack) managed to contain any legitimate attack.

Wambach put the U.S. on the scoreboard in the 29th minute when she put a header past Japanese keeper Ayumi Kaihori (INAC Kobe Leonessa). Krieger served the ball to the far post on a free kick from about 25 yards out and Wambach (magicJack) powered the header into the back of the net. In the 37th minute, Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC) bolted some 30 yards before delivering a pass to an overlapping Wambach, who sent the ball to Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence) for the one-timed shot past Kaihori.

Notebook: Keeper Hope Solo, starting for the first time since injuring her shoulder last year, earned her 51st shutout for the U.S. … Midfielder Carli Lloyd wore the captain’s armband for earning her 100th cap … The U.S. used five substitutes – Tarpley (magicJack) for O’Reilly (Tarpley was later replaced by Alex Morgan of the WNY Flash), Lori Lindsey (Independence) for Shannon Boxx (magicJack), Tobin Heath (Sky Blue FC) for Megan Rapinoe (Independence), and Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers) for Amy Rodriguez … Whitney Engen (WNY Flash) flew out to Columbus following Friday’s WPS game, replacing the injured Heather Mitts (Atlanta Beat) on the U.S. roster … In addition to Sawa and Aya Miyama, there were two other Japanese players with WPS connections. Karina Maruyama, who did not play Saturday, was a member of the Philadelphia Independence in 2010. And, starting left back Aya Samejima trained this preseason with the Boston Breakers. Samejima previously played for TEPCO Mareeze … A moment of silence was held prior to the match to honor those affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Northeastern Japan …  The two teams will play on Wednesday, May 18 at 7 p.m. ET at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina (airing live on ESPN2) … Saturday’s match was played in front of a crowd of 5,234.