Nation & World

Olympic soccer: U.S. men open with 1-0 victory over Japan

Goal scoring hasn't exactly been a strength for the U.S. men's Olympic soccer team.

In fact, since qualifying back on March 20 with a 3-0 win against Canada, the U.S. team, made up of the under-23 team plus three over-age additions, has scored in exactly one of six matches heading into Olympic play.

The U.S. men managed just a single goal Thursday in its opening match against Japan. But it was the only score the team needed, as it secured a much-needed three points with a 1-0 shutout of the Japanese.

The win was considered crucial for the U.S. team's chances of getting out of its first-round group, which includes much tougher opponents in the Netherlands and Nigeria still to come. Only the top two teams make it out of each group.

After a scoreless first half, which featured several missed opportunities for Japan, the U.S. scored its lone goal less than three minutes into the second half.

Defenseman Marvell Wynne made a lengthy run up the right side before attempting a cross. Japan's Hiroki Mizumoto deflected the pass, but the rebound wound up at the feet of American midfielder Stuart Holden, who sent a low, hard shot toward goal. His shot was slowed by a deflection, but it had enough zip left to crawl across the goal line for the only score of the game. The Scottish-born Holden plays for the Houston Dynamo of the MLS.

The United States dodged several desperate scoring attempts from Japan in the final minutes to hold on for the win.

Without Landon Donovan as one of the three over-age exceptions, the most recognizable faces on the U.S. team are those of 19-year-old Freddy Adu and 36-year-old Brian McBride. Before deciding to play for the Olympic team, McBride last played for the U.S. in a major tournament during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. It was there that McBride scored goals against Portugal and Mexico to lead the Americans on an unexpected run to the quarterfinals.

McBride and the U.S. Olympic team next face the Netherlands on Sunday.