Strong performances by its world champions helped Japan close its gap with regional rival South Korea on the second day of the ISU World Team Trophy on Friday, but neither will be likely to prevent the United States from winning the event for the fifth time in eight editions when competition wraps up on Saturday night.

The host ended the night with 74 points at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, just behind South Korea (75) as both chased Team USA’s seemingly unassailable 90.

Skating to “Electric Heart” in the women’s free skate, Team Japan captain Kaori Sakamoto cleanly landed her first two combinations — a triple flip-triple toeloop and triple flip-triple toeloop — but fell on the second half of her double axle-triple toeloop, earning 145.75 points to finish second behind South Korea’s Lee Hae-in.

“I didn’t let my mistake drag me down and landed the next triple loop, which demonstrated what I’ve been working on until now,” Sakamoto said. “There were a lot of things I learned from trying this season; my spirit and my body both became stronger.”

South Korea’s Kim Ye-lim rounded out the top three of the women’s free skate with 143.59 points, while Japan’s Mai Mihara finished fifth with 131.21.

Earlier in the evening, reigning ice dance world champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates completed a two-day sweep of the discipline, setting a new personal best of 138.41 with their “Souffrance / Les Tectoniques” free dance to add 12 more points to Team USA’s tally.

Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri finished second with 132.34, while Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Pourier followed in third with 128.48.

Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi, skating to “Phantom of the Opera,” achieved their own personal best of 116.63, improving slightly on their results at March’s world championships in Saitama to finish fifth ahead of South Korea’s Hannah Lim and Ye Quan.

The performance saw Takahashi come full circle, performing to the same music in the same venue where 16 years ago he became Japan’s first men’s singles silver medalist and the worlds.

“I strongly wanted to make this a good memory,” Takahashi said. “I skated together with Kana, but for me personally this was an absolutely memorable performance, it was really great.”

In the pairs short program that started Friday’s action, Americans Alexa Kneirim and Brandon Frazier scored 82.25 to earn a narrow advantage over newly crowned world champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (80.47).

The Japanese pair, skating to “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” earned high marks for their triple toeloop and throw triple lutz to give Team Japan a much-needed 11 points after its singles skaters struggled on Thursday.

“Our form dropped after the world championships, but we were able to bring it back up in a short amount of time and that gave us confidence,” Kihara said.

The competition will conclude on Saturday with the pairs and men’s singles free skates.