[UNDER-20 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP]The USA will face Ghana, China and Germany in Group D at the 2012 Under-20 Women's World Cup, which will be held in Japan Aug. 19-Sept. 8. It is one of the toughest draws an American team has ever received at a FIFA youth tournament. Ghana tied the USA at the 2010 finals, the USA lost to China two years before that and Germany is the defending champion.
The USA plays its first two Group D matches at the Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium, opening its tournament on Aug. 20 against Ghana and China on Aug. 23. It will finish group play on Aug. 27 against Germany at Miyagi Stadium in the town of Rifu near Sendai.
"We are excited about the other teams in our group and certainly the challenges our team faces as we prepare for each of these games," said U.S. U-20 coach Steve Swanson. "We have played both Germany and China this year and have a great deal of respect for, not only how these teams compete but also how they play the game. Both of these teams are excellent technically and tactically and have some outstanding individual talent that play well together. We do not know much about Ghana at this time, but obviously having made their way through African qualifying they must be a quality side. Without a doubt, this group will provide some entertaining, competitive, high quality soccer matches in the World Cup. We are proud to represent CONCACAF in this tournament and look forward to continuing our preparations now that we know who we are playing in the group phase."
The meeting with Germany, the FIFA U-20 women's champion in 2004 and in 2010, will be the first in group play for any U.S. women's team in any FIFA tournament as the Germans did not earn a seed. Host Japan, North Korea, the USA and Brazil were seeded into the first pot for the draw.
The Americans have won three of four meetings with Germany, mostly recently prevailing, 1-0, on an own goal at the 2008 semifinals.
Under-20 Women's World Cup Draw:
Group A (Miyagi, Tokyo, Kobe)
Group B (Saitama, Tokyo, Kobe)
Group C (Kobe, Saitama, Miyagi)
North Korea DPR
Group D (Hiroshima, Saitama, Miyagi)
Swanson will take 21 players on tour of Japan for the two friendly matches. They will be based in Osaka and face Japan on June 17 at the Nagai Stadium and on June 20 at the J-Green Sakai National Training Center.
U.S. U-20 Japan Tour Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3) :Bryane Heaberlin (North Carolina; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Jami Kranich (Villanova; Hamden, Conn.), Abby Smith (Dallas Texans; Dallas, Texas)
DEFENDERS (6):Stephanie Amack (Mustang Blast; Pleasanton, Calif.), Olivia Brannon (Virginia; Troy, Mich.), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina; Rockville Centre, N.Y.) Kassey Kallman (Florida State; Woodbury, Minn.), Mollie Pathman (Duke; Durham, N.C.), Cari Roccaro (Albertson Fury; East Islip, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Virginia; St. Simons Island, Ga.), Vanessa DiBernardo (Illinois; Naperville, Ill.), Julie Johnston (Santa Clara; Mesa, Ariz.), Sarah Killion (UCLA; Fort Wayne, Ind.), Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Ashley Meier (Cleveland Whitecaps; Strongsville, Ohio), Samantha Mewis (UCLA; Hanson, Mass.)
FORWARDS (5):Maya Hayes (Penn State; West Orange, N.J.), Lindsey Horan (Colorado Rush; Golden, Colo.), Kealia Ohai (North Carolina; Draper, Utah), Katie Stengel (Wake Forest; Melbourne, Fla.), Chioma Ubogagu (Stanford; Coppell, Texas)