KANSAS CITY, KS - Children's Mercy Park prior to the match between United States and Japan on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 at Children's Mercy Park (Parker Johnson/IONYOU Media)

Team USA Falls Short in Pre-Olympic Showdown Against Japan in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY – Tuesday night Team USA competed in their final match on American soil before they head off to France for the 2024 Olympic Games that will be held in Paris. The Americans faced off with Japan at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. 

According to the Olympic Games Guidelines, all players must be under the age of twenty-three, so the match was a showcase of potential future talent. 

Team USA spent the week practicing in Kansas City as well as taking in some of the KC experience as they visited multiple sporting events in addition to other festivities during their time. Twenty-five American athletes have been training alongside each other all week, but they have also been competing against each other. Only eighteen spots are allotted on the flight over to France, so this match, in addition to the training session as a whole, can easily be viewed as a tryout. 

For American Midfielder Gianluca Busio it was a homecoming moment after he spent four years playing for Kansas City’s MLS team, Sporting Kansas City. However, Busio did not play as he attempted to recover from a minor injury he suffered in the Serie B promotion playoffs. 

Another notable exception from the starting lineup was Aiden Morris. Even though his impact will be instrumental in the Olympic Games, he did not play tonight because of a recent signing with Middlesbrough in England. Morris participated all week in practice but had to fly out to sign with his new English club which forced him to miss the match. He previously played for MLS’s Columbus Crew. 

The United States struggled all night with offense, only forcing two shots. The offensive plan appeared to rely heavily on the deep ball, with USA going to it multiple times early in the first half. The long passes put some pressure on the Japanese back line, but it wasn’t enough to make them crumble. 

Japan’s offense on the other hand played well, putting continuous pressure on the Americans. They got it rolling early with an early handball in the box that led to a penalty kick for Japan. They were able to capitalize with Shun Ayukawa firing a shot to the back-left post. 

Parker Johnson/IONYOU Media

At halftime, the score remained 1-0 with Japan leading. Multiple substitutions were made following the break in the action; a common theme for both teams as the staffs of both countries observed their rosters as they prepared to make their Olympic rosters.  

In the second half, Japan again was able to score after Team USA fell short of any high-percentage shots. Japan seemed to play a highly productive defensive game by playing high-level offense, forcing the ball to remain on their desired side of the pitch. 

Japan was able to stick to their game plan and steal a win over the United States in a 2-0 game. American Head Coach Marko Mitrovic wasn’t pleased saying it, “wasn’t the performance we wanted to have”.  It isn’t a complete loss for Team USA however, as a large variety of players was able to be scouted and analyzed for the impending decisions coming up for the USA Olympic Coaching Staff. Mitrovic said, “This is the last event that has no price, this is the best timing to go through this challenge. To learn and to analyze that, because we strongly believe this group can do much better than they showed today”.

Parker Johnson/IONYOU Media

Two goalkeepers and sixteen outfield players will be allowed on each Olympic roster and each country has until July 3rd to submit that collection of players. The next step for these U23 clubs is to see who will be heading to Paris in just over a month. 

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