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Japan rallies to tie US 1-1 at Algarve Cup

AP - Sports

The United States gave itself a difficult path to repeat at Algarve Cup champions.

Aya Miyama scored on a 35-yard free kick in the 83rd minute, giving Japan a 1-1 tie against the defending champion United States on Wednesday in their opener of the women's soccer tournament in Parchal, Portugal.

Sydney Leroux had scored in the 59th minute for the U.S., which extended its unbeaten streak to 43 games (36-0-7) since a March 2012 loss to Japan at the Algarve Cup. Leroux slid to block a clearance from goalkeeper Erina Yamane following a backpass, and the ball ricocheted in from 12 yards.

''She was very lackadaisical, so I said, 'OK, I'll pounce,' and I got her,'' Leroux said.

Carli Lloyd put the ball into the net with a volley just 72 seconds in after Leroux's shot hit a defender and bounced to her, but the goal was called off because Lloyd was offside.

Miyama scored on a knuckling shot that goalkeeper Hope Solo knocked into an upper corner with a diving parry.

''I thought we did more than enough to win the game, and we had enough chances to probably win two or three games,'' U.S. coach Tom Sermanni said. ''But it's the classic tale that if you don't take your chances when the game is at 1-nil, it's always very dangerous, particularly when you are playing quality opposition.''

The U.S. plays Sweden and former American coach Pia Sundhage on Friday and closes the first round against Denmark on Monday. Sweden beat Denmark 2-0 and leads Group B; the U.S. must beat the Swedes to have any chance of reaching the final.

''Going out there and being able to play a game like this against one of the world's best teams means a lot of our team. It's good for our confidence,'' American forward Christen Press said. ''Sweden will be a totally different opponent, but if we can come and impose our style every game against every opponent, that will help us a lot going into the World Cup qualifiers.''

The Americans had a 20-8 advantage in shots against Japan, which beat the U.S. on penalty kicks in the 2011 World Cup final.

''It was pretty windy out there, but we're used to this when we come to the Algarve,'' American midfielder Heather O'Reilly said. ''We're disappointed that we didn't come away with the win, but we are happy how we dominated the game in certain points.''

NOTES: The Americans said Wednesday they will play an exhibition game against China on April 10 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. ... In Group A, Germany beat Iceland 5-0, and China edged Norway 1-0. In Group C, whose teams cannot reach the final, Portugal beat Austria 3-2, and North Korea won 2-1 against Russia.

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