USA fails historically at Under-20 Women's World Cup

A 2-2 tie in its must-win Group C finale against Spain sends the USA home with its first group-stage exit since the biennial Under-20 Women's World Cup was launched in 2002.

Coach Jitka Klimkova's U.S. team opened with a 1-0 loss to Asian champion Japan. Following its 6-0 win over Paraguay, the USA needed a victory over European champion Spain -- which beat Paraguay, 6-1, and Japan, 1-0 -- to advance. The 2-2 tie earned Spain Group C first place while Japan finished second after its 6-0 win over Paraguay.

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)
2018 group stage (Jitka Klimkova).

Spain dominated the first half, passing through the USA's high pressure, attacking down both wings, and frequently intercepting the USA's passes. Spain went ahead after just seven minutes when Jaelin Howell cleared a ball from inside the goal area straight to Patricia Guijarro at the edge of the penalty area. Guijarro shot crisply from 15 yards into the low right corner of Laurel Ivory's net.

Spain goalkeeper Cata made a brilliant diving save on a 20th minute, 18-yard shot by Viviana Villacorta that looked headed into the top corner. But Spain continued to control the rhythm and scored its second in the 42nd minute when Lucia Garcia's 9-yard shot slipped through Ivory's arms. Ashley Sanchez cleared a Guijarro shot off the line in the 39th minute.

After having only 39% of the possession in the first half, the USA played much more impressively in the second half, keeping Spain in a defensive mode for stretches. Needing three goals to remain alive in the tournament, the USA got its first in the 83rd with a sharply struck low free kick into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area by Sophia Smith.

A deflected 28-yard shot from Savannah DeMelo tied the the game in the 87th minute. But in the remaining three minutes plus four minutes of stoppage team, it was Spain that came closer to scoring a gamewinner -- Candela shot wide after receiving a misplayed back pass from Ivory.

Smith's goal was her third of the tournament. Smith, who turned 18 on Aug. 10, is eligible for the 2020 U-20 World Cup.

None of the three Concacaf teams reached the quarterfinals. Haiti finished last in Group D and Mexico finished third in Group B.

Aug. 13 in Dinan-Lehon
USA 2 Spain 2. Goals: Smith 83, DeMelo 87; Guijarro 7, Garcia 42.
USA - Pickett, Hiatt, Girma, Rodriguez (Hocking, 73); Villacorta, Howell (Pinto, 59), DeMelo; Gilroy Smith, Sanchez (Kim, 46).
Spain -- Cata, Lucia, Pujadas, Aleixandri, Menayo; Eva Navarro (Candela, 74), Damaris, Guijarro (capt.); Pina, L.Garcia (Nuria, 59), Aitana.
Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley (New Zealand).
Att.: 1,981

USA / Spain
Shots: 16 / 16
Shots on target: 7 / 7
Possession: 43%/57%
Saves: 5 / 5
Corner Kicks: 2 / 2
Fouls: 8 / 7
Offside: 0 / 3

Yellow card: Spain -- Bonmati 71.

6 comments about "USA fails historically at Under-20 Women's World Cup".
  1. Ginger Peeler, August 13, 2018 at 8:46 p.m.

    I watched the game and, I have to admit, I was very disappointed by our poor passing. I even found myself thinking that my daughter’s u-14 traveling team in San Diego, back in the  80s, would have been more accurate. Spain also fielded an amazing keeper! If she plays this well throughout the tournament, Spain may well be a major contender (perhaps they already are). I really expected much more from our team. 

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, August 13, 2018 at 10:12 p.m.

    I watched most of a prior game and was not favorably impressed at all. I was looking closely at the 1v1 matchups. My impression was that with a few exceptions the players were not good 1v1.

    As a team their best quality was body positioning off the ball, but they were had relatively weak skills and worst of all were tacticly slow. Weak skills and slow with the ball is not good, not even average.

    Ginger, that is my way of saying I saw poor passing too.

  3. uffe gustafsson, August 13, 2018 at 10:24 p.m.

    Yep just finished watching the game.
    passing was atrocious most passes to no one.
    only attack was from the outside w crosses, how about an attack down the middle with a thru ball to run on. 
    All too predictable. Not good enough.

  4. Bob Ashpole, August 13, 2018 at 11:12 p.m.

    Additionally I was more impressed with the US U14s playing at the U15 tournament. 

  5. Richard Crow, August 15, 2018 at 4:18 p.m.

    Crashng out of the U20 World Cup shoud be no surprise to anyone involved in youth soccer. Since winning is more important than developing 1v1 skills or selecting players who are comfortable with the ball in tight spaces, it seems like experts of the elite U.S. Soccer development bodies didn't get the result they wanted, but the result they planned for. 

  6. R2 Dad, August 17, 2018 at 1:11 a.m.

    The howler from Laurel Ivory is a mental error--very hard to overcome. She should be benched and required to fight for the #1 jersey.
    Jaelin Howell--What was she doing? The kids play the game but it's the coaches that decide they want a big beefy center back who kicks first before looking--that's rec soccer right there, but totally within the norm of what I expect the Nats silo to produce.

    Change is overrated, isn't it Carlos?

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