U-20 WWC: USA badly outplayed in third-place game loss

Japan outshot the USA 29-3 while beating the Americans 1-0 in the third-place game at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

The USA won two games during its fourth-place finish, beating New Zealand, 3-1, in group play and Mexico, 2-1, in the quarterfinals before losing to North Korea, 2-1, in the semis. It opened with a scoreless tie to France and tied Ghana, 1-1, in its final group game.

Coach Michelle French’s team was outshot by each opponent besides New Zealand.

SHOT COUNT (score):
USA 3 JAPAN 29 (0-1)
USA 7 North Korea 25 (1-2)
USA 4 Mexico 15 (2-1)
USA 8 Ghana 14 (1-1)
USA 13 New Zealand 5 (3-1)
USA 3 France 17 (0-0)

North Korea beat France, 3-1, in the final to lift its second U-20 Women’s World Cup.

In the third-place game, U.S. goalkeeper Casey Murphy made seven saves and the Americans held off the Japanese until Mami Ueno chipped the ball over Murphy in the 87th minute from two yards inside the left side of the penalty area into the far corner of the goal.

Japan had 63 percent of the possession.

"Anybody that watched the games knows that Japan is absolutely world class," said U.S. French. "Being able to track and manage their movement off the ball is something that's very difficult. We did our best. I couldn't be more impressed with Japan as a team, but on the flip side our players took every single punch that they threw until that goal at the end. We almost found a way, as we've done all tournament, to get a goal and get back in the game."

Dec. 3 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
USA 0 Japan 1. Goal: Ueno (Kitagawa) 87.
USA -- Murphy; Elliston, Otto, Riehl, Jean; Pugh, Cousins (DeMelo, 69), Ogle, Sanchez, Fox (Canales, 86); Hedge (Scarpa, 46).
Japan -- Hirao; Kitagawa, Ichise, Sumida, Sugita; Hasegawa, Momiki, Haza, Miura (Matsubara 59); Miyagawa, Moriya (Ueno, 46).
Referee: Liang Qin (China)
Att.: 8,093

U.S. U-20 Women's World Cup History
Year U.S. finish (U.S. coach)
2002 Champion (Tracey Leone)
2004 Third place (Mark Krikorian)
2006 Fourth Place (Tim Schulz)
2008 Champion (Tony DiCicco)
2010 Quarterfinals (Jill Ellis)
2012 Champion (Steve Swanson)
2014 Quarterfinals (Michelle French)
2016 Fourth place (Michelle French)

23 comments about "U-20 WWC: USA badly outplayed in third-place game loss".
  1. R2 Dad, December 3, 2016 at 12:16 p.m.

    Michelle French, go back to club soccer. 37% possession, outshot 38 to 105--how is it that you get to coach our ladies? And that's just the results; your brand of 90's kickball doesn't work anymore, and I'm surprised Jill Ellis let's you play that way because it's an embarrassment. US Soccer needs to flush these coaches instead of recycling them. You cannot rehabilitate an unrepentant kickball coach.

  2. Jim Ngo replied, December 3, 2016 at 12:51 p.m.

    @R2 Dad, it's a problem with player development, talent identification and player promotion. Japan, China, Europe are working on developing tactics and skill. U.S. club system promotes speed over skill because it emphasizes wins over development. By the time they get to U20 & Olympic level, it's over. Boy's academies are trying to change that but the girls side has no such option.

  3. Darvin Loredo replied, December 8, 2016 at 1:58 p.m.

    coach French isn't equipped to coach at that level but it won't change simply because the US Soccer Federation has favorites. In the women's game the gap between the US and others is closing fast, Ive seen it coming for quite sometime now.

  4. Chris J, December 3, 2016 at 2:07 p.m.

    Absolutely agree, R2 Dad. Same kickball with French’s last U20 team. Same style and poor result with two cycles of Snow’s 17s. US Soccer remains overly-enamored with each cycle’s anointed athletic power forward and kick and hope that they can steal games with a warrior-girl goal on some counter. I don’t blame the girls as much as the coaching. Tactics are horrible. It’s all about the “star” and not about a team, and the coaches reinforce it with their style of play, not to mention all the videos and marketing. Pugh or Sanchez will win it for us. You see Pugh throw her little tantrum when Scarpa’s ball didn’t find her? C’mon, Scarpa saw her - applaud the effort and recognize a good defensive play, stop pouting. Japan is making short quick passes in the box to find space. It doesn’t matter who gets the shot. The US in the final third are all either big crosses and headers or individual dribble, overly relying upon their star to win the day.

  5. Roberto Magellan replied, December 4, 2016 at 1:53 p.m.

    Right on target Chris... You, Sara and I are on the same page...

  6. Sara P, December 3, 2016 at 2:16 p.m.

    What about French talking like it’s a surprise that Japan is hard to track off the ball? Really, this is new? You didn’t prepare for this? Plus, why is she smiling so much after the game? You only managed 11 shots on goal the entire tournament, and 4 of those were against New Zealand! You should be pissed, or at least embarrassed! We keep coaching to win CONCACAF and some random friendlies against bottom feeders, then are completely overwhelmed at the bigger events. There are girls out there that can play better soccer, US Soccer just isn’t interested and continues to largely go for big, fast, strong with their player selection. When they do let a technical player sneak through, they inevitably have no one to combine with and ultimately get re-programmed by the coaches to long ball it up the field. Unfortunately, these are all Ellis’ cronies, so I doubt anything will change…French, Snow, Kater, Heinrichs all need to go.

  7. Roberto Magellan replied, December 4, 2016 at 1:53 p.m.

    Sara P, we must be related, because 100% of your words could've come from me and a discussion group I'm involved with... I'm even going to repost your comment here:

  8. Darvin Loredo replied, December 8, 2016 at 2:10 p.m.

    you're on point. Add this to your statement there are 3 U20 and U17 tournaments in Europe every year for both boys and girls our youth teams never go to this tournaments. All European teams do and so does Mexico, Brazil,Venezuela and Costa Rica. Which makes me wonder why aren't taking advantage of that opportunity? Brazil organizes similar tournaments and all this countries go from Russia to France to Germany etc, see developing players physically isn't enough anymore because then you find yourself struggling during games we only have one true tactically savvy all around player in the women's game and that Tobin Heath take her away from the senior team and the flow isn't the same there's no other player like her and we don't have that at the youth level coach Snow needs to go so does Coach Branch and the rest of the federation needs a much needed revamping because progression is slowing down and on the men's side has been stuck in the same place since 2006.

  9. cony konstin, December 3, 2016 at 2:44 p.m.

    ECNL is a travesty and an abomination. US soccer needs radical change.....

  10. K Michael, December 3, 2016 at 6:26 p.m.

    "...and the prosecution rests,your honor"
    Sincerely,
    The DA

  11. Roberto Magellan, December 4, 2016 at 1:52 p.m.

    Sara P, we must be related, because 100% of your words could've come from me and a discussion group I'm involved with... I'm even going to repost your comment here: "Sara P
    commented on: December 3, 2016 at 2:16 p.m.
    What about French talking like it’s a surprise that Japan is hard to track off the ball? Really, this is new? You didn’t prepare for this? Plus, why is she smiling so much after the game? You only managed 11 shots on goal the entire tournament, and 4 of those were against New Zealand! You should be pissed, or at least embarrassed! We keep coaching to win CONCACAF and some random friendlies against bottom feeders, then are completely overwhelmed at the bigger events. There are girls out there that can play better soccer, US Soccer just isn’t interested and continues to largely go for big, fast, strong with their player selection. When they do let a technical player sneak through, they inevitably have no one to combine with and ultimately get re-programmed by the coaches to long ball it up the field. Unfortunately, these are all Ellis’ cronies, so I doubt anything will change…French, Snow, Kater, Heinrichs all need to go."

  12. Sara P replied, December 4, 2016 at 9:34 p.m.

    Ha! Thanks for the repost, Roberto! I think there are a number of us...

  13. Jim Ngo, December 5, 2016 at 2:07 a.m.

    I saw several times vs Japan that US defenders were in poor positions that didn't allow them to watch both their mark and the ball. So they had to either track their mark *OR* ball watch. Which did they choose? The worst choice, ball-watch. There is a system failure in the system if a U20 player has such fundamental issues.

  14. Jim Ngo replied, December 5, 2016 at 2:08 a.m.

    I meant to write "There is a failure in the system..."

  15. Quarterback TD, December 5, 2016 at 9:55 a.m.

    Do not ever compare the pathetic men's team with the women.. the men are a disgrace and will never win anything.. also never forget we are Champions where it really matters at the Senior Women.. Right now we are going through a slump but I have seen the level of dedicated young girls coming up and all I can say is within 3 years we will be back on top.. it happened before and it will happen again..

  16. j bapper, December 5, 2016 at 10:06 a.m.

    There is clearly a massive problem with the player identification and coaching on the women's side of US Soccer. Our U17 and U20 teams were embarrassed over the last couple months. I watched yesterday's U20 game and was shocked by the lack of technical ability and frankly the lack of talent of our players. You can't tell me there's not better, more technical and talented players than what I saw yesterday. The USC vs West Virginia NCAA game had better players than what we saw in the WC U20 game. This will eventually catch up to the women's senior team... probably a lot sooner than we think.

  17. Merrill Ring, December 5, 2016 at 10:11 a.m.

    All French could say was about the "passion" that we played with - compare that with Hackworth's comments on the growth of technical and tactical skills when the U17 males won the friendlies.
    French has to go.

  18. Quarterback TD replied, December 5, 2016 at 10:28 a.m.

    There are definitely favoritism and lack of recruiting players who really can make a difference.. that's why a lot of the US born women players play for other countries. We also like rehiring failed coaches again and again.. the US was outplayed for the simple fact the COACH made no adjustments after Mexico totally outplayed them..

  19. Roberto Magellan, December 5, 2016 at 12:25 p.m.

    The recruiting of some of the players must have been done by blind coaches and scouts. Some of them did not have the caliber to play for a Division 1 NCAA university, let alone a national team. And YES, the coaching was HORRIBLE!!!!

  20. K Michael, December 5, 2016 at 5:13 p.m.

    Women’s soccer was “cursed” so to speak with so much early success in simply out-hustling and out-muscling (with equal technical quality) less experienced sides. As the women’s game has proliferated globally, many of these countries were able to tap into their culturally-ingrained soccer cultures to “ramp up” their player pools and compete with us. While most national sides still can’t hold a candle to us physically, their technical superiority (and superior, instinctive mental quickness) has now more than made up the gap. This will continue for perhaps another 4-8 years as US Soccer has intervened in the nick of time to right the ship. The Girls’ DA will take no time at all to promote legions of technical, fast-thinking kids into the player pool. Their deemphasis of winning State Cups will allow, like the boys side, some breathing room to allow the late-bloomers to flourish and not be cast aside because they haven’t mastered the art of ramming their elbows into the back of a better technical player while a myopic incompetent “let em play” ref ignores the foul. The Women’s side will get their mojo back in short order, as the US still has a dramatically stronger foundation and resources than the competition. Its kind of like US basketball having to get serious after fading a bit in the 80’s and early 90’s as the international game improved.

  21. Darvin Loredo replied, December 8, 2016 at 2:02 p.m.

    You have a great point, the out muscling of teams is long gone teams are very much physically ready to play anytime but the advantage is that they're also tactically savvy then our players are.

  22. aaron dutch, December 7, 2016 at 4:32 p.m.

    we have all discussed this 100x, our program is just sliding for all the same reasons. We just can't play football as a team or with any tactical/technical skills.

  23. Darvin Loredo, December 8, 2016 at 1:56 p.m.

    there won't be a radical change until the staff is changed and more forward thinking coaches are given the chance. This is happening because the US has a weird culture to only focus on the physical aspect of the sport which is the easiest part. The most difficult part is to develop and teach players how to think tactically. In the women's side there's only one US born player who is both tactically and physically sound and that's Tobin Heath but see she's only one player and there's no companion in sight. Some would make a case for Morgan Brian but she's not at that level and while that is a real problem here it's not the same for the rest of the countries. Japan, Korea DPR, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and a few others have figured out how to develop players in that way while here seems like they're content with only developing a certain amount of players. On the boys side is the same thing talent isn't developed in the US. As a coach and former college player I walked away from my college team because there was only a physical aspect to our game so when we encountered tactical teams there was no way to win. Many changes need to be made and soon.

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