U-20 Women's World Cup Preview: USA aims for fourth title

The USA faces tough first-round competition at the ninth U-20 Women's World Cup, hosted by France Aug. 5-24, in its quest to win its fourth title and first since 2012.

The USA, which also won the inaugural U-20 World Cup in 2002 and the 2008 title, exited in the quarterfinals in 2014 and finished fourth in 2016. Now coached by Jitka Klimkova, the USA faces Asian champion Japan, tournament debutant Paraguay, and European champion Spain in Group C, from which the top two finishers advance to the quarterfinals.

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)

Two years ago, the USA lost, 1-0, to Japan in the third-place game after a 2-1 overtime loss to eventual champ North Korea in the semifinals. Spain, which lost to North Korea, 3-2, in overtime of the 2016 quarterfinals, beat the Netherlands and France while winning the 2017 UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship that served as the qualifying tournament for the 2018 U-20 World Cup. Paraguay qualified as South American runner-up to Brazil.

The USA underwhelmed in Concacaf qualifying. It needed a penalty-kick shootout win over Haiti after a 1-1 tie in the semifinals to clinch its World Cup spot, and fell in the final to Mexico in a shootout after a 1-1 tie.

USA 2018 U-20 WORLD CUP, Group C games
Monday, Aug. 6
USA vs. Japan 1:30 pm ET (FS2, FOX Sports GO)
Thursday, Aug. 9
USA vs. Paraguay 1:30 pm ET (FS2, FOX Sports GO
Monday, Aug. 13
USA vs. Spain 7:30 am ET (FS2, FOX Sports GO)

Sophia Smith

The USA's 21-player roster is comprised of 16 collegians and five youth club players, including leading scorer Sophia Smith of Real Colorado, who is heading to Stanford this fall.

Six players on the roster were not part of Klimkova's squad during the qualifying tournament: Goalkeeper Hillary Beall, defenders Emily Fox and Samantha Hiatt and forwards Erin Gilroy, Penelope Hocking and Alexa Spaanstra.

Klimkova's squad is on the young side, with seven 1998s, 10 1999s and four players born in 2000. (Players born in 1998 or later are eligible for this year's U-20 World Cup.) The 2000-born Girma, Brianna Pinto, Smith and Spaanstra are eligible for the 2020 U-20 Women's World Cup.

Three players, Fox, midfielder Savannah DeMelo and forward Ashley Sanchez, were part of the USA's 2016 U-20 World Cup team.

Player (College or Club; Hometown; U-20 Caps/Goals)
Hillary Beall (Michigan; Laguna Beach, Calif.; 0/0)
Laurel Ivory (Virginia; Surfside, Fla.; 12/0)
Amanda McGlynn (Virginia Tech; Jacksonville, Fla.; 10/0)
Emily Fox (UNC; Chapel Hill, N.C., 32/3)
Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC; San Jose, Calif.; 17/0)
Samantha Hiatt (Stanford; Newcastle, Wash.; 11/1)
Tara McKeown (USC; Newbury Park, Calif.; 22/0)
Zoe Morse (Virginia; East Lansing, Mich.; 19/0)
Kiara Pickett (Stanford; Santa Barbara, Calif.; 16/0)
Isabel Rodriguez (Ohio State; Canton, Mich.; 19/0)
Savannah DeMelo (USC; Bellflower, Calif.; 36/5)
Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 26/2)
Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat; Durham, N.C.; 22/3)
Taryn Torres (Virginia; Frisco, Texas; 12/2)
Viviana Villacorta (UCLA; Lawndale, Calif.; 23/1)
Erin Gilroy (Tennessee; Bellmore, N.Y.; 4/2)
Penelope Hocking (So Cal Blues; Anaheim, Calif.; 9/3)
Abigail Kim (California; Vashon, Wash.; 24/6)
Ashley Sanchez (UCLA; Monrovia, Calif.; 33/11)
Alexa Spaanstra (Virginia; Brighton, Mich.; 3/0)
Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 25/21)

2002 USA
2004 Germany
2006 North Korea
2008 USA
2010 Germany
2012 USA
2014 Germany
2016 North Korea

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