Not all of the North Koreans' play against the USA in their 2-1 semifinal win at the U-20 Women’s World Cup was admirable. Three key U.S. attackers, Ally Watt, Mallory Pugh and Ashley Sanchez, needed examination for possible head injuries following Korean fouls.
Watt, a 66th-minute sub, was thumped from behind by Ri Un Yong while receiving a high ball in the 80th minute. Pugh, the main victim of previous Korean fouls, was clearly dazed after a similar hit from behind by Ju Hyo Sim 11 minutes into overtime. Referee Katalin Kulcsar inexplicably kept her cards in her pocket for both incidents, but finally cautioned Ju Hyo Sim for forearming Sanchez in the 105th minute.
The hit on Watt, who had scored after coming off the bench in the USA’s 3-1 group win over New Zealand and 2-1 victory over Mexico in the quarterfinal, rendered her ineffective. She returned to the field but was subbed when overtime started.
The Americans, despite fending off waves of Korean attacks after they fell behind on a 50th-minute penalty kick, managed to send the game into overtime on Natalie Jacobs’ 89th-minute goal. They may been disadvantaged by the blows taken by Watt, Pugh and Sanchez, but there was no denying that the Koreans played the superior soccer while out-shooting the USA 25-7 and having 58 percent of the possession. U.S. keeper Casey Murphy made five saves while her counterpart Kim Myong Sun only one.
Most of the game, especially after the first half hour, was played in the U.S. half and the Americans tended to turn the ball over soon after they won it, often with aimless clearances. The Koreans, meanwhile, displayed superb technique in controlling the ball, dribbling and passing, which they did swiftly and on the ground. The Americans, too often, hit high balls out of the back. (The 5-foot-4 Pugh should not be expected to win aerial duels.)
"I think you saw why Korea DPR made the semifinal and why the growth of the game in their country has propelled them to so much success," said U.S. coach Michelle French. "I thought the first 90 minutes we did well enough to be in the game. It's an extremely disappointing feeling for those players right now who left every bit of energy and every piece of their heart out on the field today."
The USA faces the Japan in the third-place game on Saturday (1 a.m. ET on FS1 and telemundo.com/PT: 10 pm Friday).
"Now we're at a point where we have to turn around and refocus because we have an opportunity to earn a medal," said French.
A quarterfinalist two years ago when it fell to North Korea on PKs, the USA won its third U-20 World Cup in 2012. North Korea, champion in 2006, is aiming for its second title when it faces France on Saturday. The USA had opened the tournament with a 0-0 tie against France.
Game Report by Paul Kennedy: USA handed soccer lesson
Nov. 25 in Port Moresby
USA 1 North Korea 2. Goals: Jacobs 88; Yon pen. 50, R. Hyang Sim 91.
USA -- Murphy; Elliston, Otto, Riehl, Jean (Hedge 71), Fox (Watt 66; Petersen 91), Ogle, Jacobs, Cousins (Scarpa 78), Pugh, Sanchez.
North Korea -- Sun, U. Sol Gyong, C. Sol Gyong, W. Jong Sim (R. Kyong Hyang 75), R. Hyang Sim, K. Phyong Hwa (A Snog Ok 95), Yon, Yong, K. Un Hwa (S. Hyang Sim 66), J. Hyo Sim, Hyang (C. Un Hwa 75).
U.S. U-17 boys to face Portugal, Turkey, Brazil
Coach John Hackworth has named a 20-player roster for the U.S. U-17 boys national team's games against Portugal (Wednesday), Turkey (Friday) and Brazil (Sunday) at the 13th annual Nike International Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. The games will be broadcast live on ussoccer.com, U.S. Soccer’s Facebook page and U.S. Soccer’s YouTubechannel.
Hackworth’s squad includes three foreign-based players: Carlos Dos Santos (Benfica/Portugal), Dest Sergino (Ajax/Netherlans) and Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain).
U.S. U-17 boys national team
GOALKEEPERS (2): Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos (S.L. Benfica; Philadelphia, Penn.), *Justin Garces (Kendall SC; Miami, Fla.).
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Asensio (Atlanta United FC; Roswell, Ga.), Sergino Dest (Ajax; Almere-stad, Netherlands), Christopher Gloster (New York Red Bulls; Montclair, N.J.), *Jaylin Lindsey (Sporting Kansas City; Charlotte, N.C.), Carlos Ritaccio (BW Gotschee; Westbury, N.Y.), *James Sands (New York City FC; Rye, N.Y.), *Arturo Vasquez (FC Golden State; Mira Loma, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (6): *George Acosta (Weston FC; Hollywood, Fla.), Isaac Angking (New England Revolution; Providence, R.I.), *Christopher Durkin (D.C. United; Glen Allen, Va.), *Blaine Ferri (Solar Chelsea SC; Southlake, Tex.), *Rayshaun McGann (Philadelphia Union; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Indiana Vassilev (IMG Academy; Savannah, Ga.)
FORWARDS (5): *Ayomide Akinola (Toronto FC; Brampton, Ont.), *Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United FC; Powder Springs, Ga.), Bryan Reynolds Jr. (FC Dallas; Little Elm, Tex.), *Joshua Sargent (Scott Gallagher Missouri; O’Fallen, Mo.) *Timothy Weah (Paris Saint-Germain F.C.; Rosedale, N.Y.)
* The 12 players who competed at the 2015 Nike Friendlies, when the USA beat the Netherlands (2-1) and lost to Brazil (0-3) and England (2-3).
2016 Nike International Friendlies Schedule
Wednesday, Nov. 30
Brazil vs. Turkey 3:30 p.m. ET
USA vs. Portugal 7 p.m. ET
Portugal vs. Brazil 3:30 p.m. ET
USA vs. Turkey 7 p.m. ET
Sunday, Dec. 4
Turkey vs. Portugal 1:30 p.m. ET
USA vs. Brazil 5 p.m. ET
Josh Perez makes history with Serie A debut
Southern California Josh Perez joined Pennsylvania product Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) as the second player from the 2015 U.S. U-17s to debut in a Europe big five league when the 18-year-old came off the bench for Fiorentina in the 75th minute of Monday's 4-2 loss at Inter Milan. Perez is the youngest of six Americans to play in Italy's Serie A. Perez is the nephew of U.S. Hall of Famer and former U.S. U-14 and U-15 national team coach Hugo Perez.
For more about Josh Perez's debut, the history of Americans in Serie A, and 2015 U.S. U-17s in the pros, read Paul Kennedy's Off the Post column.
Kelley Pulisic is part of ‘Soccer Parenting Virtual Summit’
Kelley Pulisic, the mother of U.S. teen phenom Christian Pulisic, will lead one of 20 educational sessions of the Soccer Parenting Virtual Summit Dec. 2-4. Kelley Pulisic, who played college ball at George Mason, will appear on Saturday (Dec. 3) at 3 p.m. ET with a session titled: “Raising an Exceptional Player and How to Teach Soccer Character to Our Kids.”
Other presenters at the summit, hosted by SoccerParenting.com founder Skye Eddy Bruce, include ENCL president Christian Lavers (Friday, 8 p.m ET), NSCAA Director of Coach Ian Barker (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET), US Youth Soccer Coaching Director Sam Snow (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET) and Women’s World Cup-winning coach Tony DiCicco (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET). Access to the sessions over the weekend is free. Lifetime access is available for a fee.