USA makes early exit from Under-20 Women's World Cup (again)

The USA was eliminated from the Under-20 Women's World Cup on Wednesday when it lost to defending champion Japan, 3-1.

The loss followed a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands and left the USA in third place in Group D, marking the second straight tournament the Americans have failed to reach the knockout stage. Exiting after group play is no disgrace. What is worrying is just how poorly the USA played.

Saturday, August 20
Spain vs. Mexico
Colombia vs. Brazil
Saturday, August 21
Nigeria vs. Netherlands
Japan vs. France

The USA needed to beat Japan by two goals to be assured of reaching the quarterfinals. The match was scoreless at the half, but the gulf between the two teams was already apparent. The Japanese weaved their way past U.S. defenders with their nifty diribbling and quick passing. The Americans, on the other hand, struggled to string multiple passes together in the Japanese half.

The best chance in the first half fell to the USA, however, when Ally Sentnor's shot took a deflection off a Japan defender and appeared to wrong-foot goalkeeper Shu Ohba before the Eastern Tennessee State star scrambled and pushed the ball away for a corner kick.

The USA held out until the 55th minute when defender Lilly Reale failed to control a ball played into the U.S. half and Yuzuki Yamamoto pounced, playing the ball to Manaka Matsukobo, who set herself up to score with her left foot.

Twelve minutes later, a well-worked free kick ended with defender Shinomi Koyama finding herself open on the left side of the penalty, where she fired a shot inside the far post.

Simone Jackson came off the bench and reduced Japan's lead to 2-1 in the 70th minute, but Haruna Tabata restored Japan's two-goal lead in the 84th minute with a header from close range.


The Netherlands won the other Group D match, beating Ghana, 4-1, to join Japan in the quarterfinals. 

The Japan FA Academy elite program for girls with four residency schools across Japan has produced a long line of skillful players -- Japan's victory on Wednesday marked the third straight U-20 World Cup at which it defeated the USA -- though it has failed to translate that into success at the senior level in recent years.

The USA's preparations were hurt by a paucity of international competition. It won its seven games in Concacaf qualifying by a margin of 49-0 but only played in one tournament that included teams from outside of Concacaf, the Sud Ladies Cup, where the other three entrants -- host France, Mexico and the Netherlands -- have reached the final eight in Costa Rica. But that can't be an excuse.

For more than a decade, there have been warning signs about the USA losing ground to other countries. Until now, the USWNT has managed to get by on its winning mentality and superior resources, but in time the technical and tactical weaknesses of the players being developed will catch up.

Sooner rather than later.

Aug. 17 in Alajuela
USA 1 Japan 3. Goals: Jackson 70; Matsukubo 55, Koyama 67, Tabata 84.
USA -- Justus; Rouse, Mason, Reale, (Flynn, 72), Guidry (Byars, 72); DellaPeruta (Shaw, 61), Moultrie, Albert, Thompson, Cooper (Kitahata, 81), Sentnor (Jackson, 61)
Japan -- Ohba; Sugisawa, Tabata,  Ishikawa, Koyama, Nagae; Fujino (Hijikata, 71), Oyama (Amano, 66), Iwasaki (Yoshida, 90); Yamamoto (Hamano, 66), Matsukubo (Shimada, 90).
Yellow Cards: USA -- Cooper 49, Rouse 82.
Referee: Marta Huerta (Spain).
Att.: 1,392.

Photo: Daniela Porcelli/ISI Photos

36 comments about "USA makes early exit from Under-20 Women's World Cup (again)".
  1. Santiago 1314, August 18, 2022 at 6:26 a.m.

    2 Cycles of Negative Growth = a REGRESSION.!!!!
     I imagine that some USSF Politician will Try to Tell us it's NOT, and this is Just "Transitory".!!!! 
    "COACH" and who ever Hired her, should RESIGN IMMEDIATELY; or be FIRED.!!!

  2. Betty Lisec replied, August 18, 2022 at 11:33 a.m.

    Absolutely spot-on!!
    Horrible coach.

  3. Douglas Berlier replied, August 18, 2022 at 12:34 p.m.

    Poor preparation, rediculous statement by the coach. Did not see a cohesive team . Coaching was extremely insufficient.

  4. Kerry Solomon replied, August 19, 2022 at 2:51 p.m.

    Agree.  Itvwas a poor display of skills and coaching 

  5. Santiago 1314, August 18, 2022 at 6:30 a.m.

    When I saw the Team Sheet, I thought For a Moment That the Coach had figured it Out… 

    USA Team had No Left Wing, but, we Learned in the Debacle with Holland, that “Battleship Guidry” could get to the End Line and Whip in Left Footed Crosses.(Because she Certainly can’t Defend Out Wide, cause she Turns as Quickly as A Battleship)

    By Starting (2) #9s in Sentnor and Cooper, with Thompson at WIDE RT. Wing, I thought we were going to see a Display of USA Aerial Power… Instead we got Center Forwards alternating at playing Left Wing and then when the Crosses came in from Thompson, there was NO One at the Near Post and NO One at the Far Post.!!! And Thompson, (Most Disappointing player of the Match)… She Looked like a deer in the Head Lights… Scared, Unsure, Pale and Pasty…This Should have been her game to Shine against Players of her Stature and Physique… She kept Wandering Inside and Dropping all the way Back to Rt.Def.

    A Total Mental Collapse… 

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, August 18, 2022 at 6:37 a.m.

    What Position was Albert Playing.???… It was like we were playing with 10 players… She was Spinning around like a Top, around the Right Side of the Center Circle, this meant that Moultrie was FORCED to Drop back in the Left Def. Midfield to play Next to DeLaPeruta… What a Waste of Talent.!!!…. The only time she got the Ball played Purposefully to her Feet was in our own Half… I’m not sure she EVER got a ball Played PURPOSEFULLY TO HER feet in the Attacking Third… Albert should have been playing as a Left Double Pivot alongside DLP… Covering for WINGBACK/Left Forward GUIDRY….

    Mason.???… Looked Every bit the High School Player of the Year She was… Only problem… this is a World Cup, Not High School… She Should have been the RT. Wing Back… Where she could use that Cross Country Physique to Out Run the Shorter Legged Japanese Players… She is Certainly NOT CenterBack Material… Too Anemic, Spindly Legged and Lanky to Intimidate or WACK anyone.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, August 18, 2022 at 8:54 a.m.

    The play was so bad that after Japan scored the first goal, I just fast forwarded to the end.

  8. John Sabala, August 18, 2022 at 6:54 a.m.

      Same old USSF Failings,
    This article actually articulates some of the main issues with our youth soccer development where you visibly see the disparity of skills sets on the ball, passing and movement with and without the ball.  If this is not seen as a fire alarm to make wholesale changes in development the woman's program will continue to  move and remain mediocre at best.  The disparity of players on the woman's teams in CONCACAF is far greater than the men's side. So now when our team faces real teams we are shell shocked.

    In all games the whole design of play was an absolute disaster. We just got away with it against Ghana.  The backline was the two slow CB.  The RB and LB are horrible and really played more like wingback much further up the pitch regardless of where or who had control of the ball.  We lost midfield play in all matches and could not control tempo in any facet. It was get the ball, kick long or try to dribble between the entire defense.

    I agree fire the whole lot involved with this fiasco, but it will not happen. Maybe Jill Ellis saw the writing on the wall and got out when she could on a high note.

  9. Santiago 1314 replied, August 18, 2022 at 1:56 p.m.

    With this "Talent", I would have Pulled a John Sabala... 3 in the Back

                                    Cooper.      Thompson

                 Albert.           DLP
        Flynn.                                 Mason

                      * Justus *

  10. Sean Guillory, August 18, 2022 at 7:11 a.m.

    Don't expect the women to win anymore World Cups even on the senior side.  The advantage they always had is that other countries did not take women's soccer seriously.  Those days except for in CONCACAF are over.  

  11. Anthony Petgrave, August 18, 2022 at 7:29 a.m. my eye, the team tried, as best they could,  but was ill equipped technically to overcome their deficiencies. 

    Someone e picked these young women to represent, if they were the best WE have, our future, as serial winners, may be in doubt 

    Again, to my eye, they didn't appear to be in footballing condition physically nor did many possess any technical ability. Not a good look for the federation, IMHO.

  12. Matt Cardillo, August 18, 2022 at 8:16 a.m.

    The perception i have from watching the mens and womens teams (all ages) is that the men/boys are catching up to the rest of the world (slowly but surely) and the rest of the world is catching up with an passing the womens' teams.

  13. Radwan Muscat replied, August 18, 2022 at 10:05 a.m.

    Spot on

  14. Santiago 1314 replied, August 18, 2022 at 1:40 p.m.

    Matt you are correct Parity is Coming/Here in soccer in both the Womens and Mens Game... I have been saying for awhile; You Could take teams at most professional levels and even World Cup team level, change the shirts at halftime, and nobody would know the difference... There are so Few Players that can Individually impact a Game.
    Cookie Cutter players, playing predictable and unimaginative soccer. Thank God, Literally, HE Delivers us Up a Player from a Portuguese Island, or an HGH deficient kid from the barrios of Buenos Aires, or from Hershey Pennsylvania..!!!!

  15. Bob Ashpole, August 18, 2022 at 8:52 a.m.

    Predictable result. No surprise. 

    There are a couple of the players with potential to play on the senior team, but the rest "got no game".

    I am guessing of course, but I suspect that the team was split into cliques. Too much pettyness and no unity. That would be a coaching failure. It is hard for me to imagine that "elite" players could play so badly.

  16. Paul Levy, August 18, 2022 at 9:07 a.m.

    Being in CONCACAF is a plus  for  the men's side but a negative  on the women's side where there is  no comptetion.

    I found the  announcer for the game tiresome when  he  kept telling us that the US team was packed with stars.  I did not see any stars on the US team.  I saw a bunch  of college players.  Now that most of  the rest of the world is takking women's soccer seriously, the US is going to have to up its game somehow. 

    Title IX took the US women a long way but it is no longer enough.

  17. frank schoon, August 18, 2022 at 9:11 a.m.

    As I sat there on the couch with my notepad, wanting to take notes for tomorrow's SA comments, at the end of the night, there was nothing. It wasn't worth spending time for the problem is much bigger than the game details that I usually talk about at hand...

    First of all, The USSF should do a study on body fat content of the US women soccer players. I look at the Japanese and Dutch women and they are all thin, and athletic looking. I see way too many big butts ,heavy thighs on the US women teams...

    I had mentioned gestallt before, but the US developing strategy has got to change from atheticism to intelligent play. From day one it should be taught to the players that you CAN"t outrun the ball, nothing is faster than the ball. Once that is understood, then you play the game in a way that you let the ball do the running, not the player, for that is much faster...Of course that is easier said than done, for you have to understand the parameters that come with fast play, for example, positioning, field positioning and ball-handling skills,not fast running, but fast thinking.  That in itself is part of the gestallt that needs to added to our game. The problem ,currently, is that we don't have the coaches to teach that for they likewise have never grown up in that type of old-fashioned gestallt.

    Look at the dutch and Japanese when we played them, both were not about to fight it out with the US team, because we can kick anybody's ass, playing physical out there. You never saw a dutch player or japanese player try to outrun an American with the ball....forget it...but we will definitely try to for that is our gestallt that's been baked into our DNA from day one...Turbo, baby!!!

    Both the Japanese and Dutch players beat our players with short fast ball movements combined with various players. You never saw them trying to outrun an American player in a mad dash down the wing or down the field, but you would see that display with our players because that's baked into our DNA....
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  18. stewart hayes, August 18, 2022 at 9:37 a.m.

    Little details .... at the half Japan left the subs on the field for 6 minutes or so to work out.  Then they joined the team inside to probably hear whatever the coaches were saying.  They came out a minute early and soluted the crowd.  This got their supporters and others cheering them in the stands.  Then the starters exited the tunnel and were greeted individually by their teammates as well as the fans. 

    Earlier during the pre game warmups, the entire team soluted the fans to the south east and west by jogging hand in hand to each side and taking a bow and receiving polite applause.  Respect shown to their teammates and to the fans set the tone for the necessary challenges to follow.  The focus was clearly on the team as well as the fans.  

  19. frank schoon, August 18, 2022 at 9:46 a.m.

    Note how fast the Japanese turn with the ball, on a dime, especially when they allow an American player to come very close. The make a feint, as if they will in one direction but go the opposite. We don't even do that. Why don't we see that with our players, simple, we don't have the coaches to train and develop that type of style. We simply train to straight forward, too direct, too simplistic and too predictable. 

    The Dutch are too smart to get in a foot race with the Americans. They only attempt a quick dash of about 5meters than quickly pass the ball off, perhaps it backwards making US chase the ball back ,leaving a big open space forwards but behind the American players to pass the ball. In this manner you don't have to try and outrun someone but instead beat 2 or 3 players through one pass. We just don't play smart soccer and that is due to coaching....So when you're told our coaches are all licensed ,what is that suppose to mean, Licensed???? This is a joke.

    If you want to begin to increase the level of faster play, that means not run faster for that only slows down the game, instead there are other parameters that come into paly to FORCE a player to play faster.  Instead of 11v11,full field, play it half-field. Or play 11v14, where the 3 extra players forces the other team, to look ahead,move, think and pass faster....It is the little details. Rinus Michels in the WC'74 practiced playing 11v11, half-field, full goals, never full-field. In other words time and space became of the essence and that requires faster thinking and moving.

    In street soccer days,the kids on the teams never wore specially t-shirts or color pennies. No, ofcourse not ,you just played with what you wore that day in school. In other words, teams were never equal, nobody wore similar colors, which forced kids to always look up and remember who your teammates were and where they are situated. Unlike today, the coach just throws out the color pennies and seperate two teams. That was never done in my days of street soccer, where you automatically were forced to look ,think, prepare to where the ball should go ahead of time in the next move because similar color teammates weren't there. All this stuff became automatic to the kids in my days through playing. Today, that gestallt is lost and instead, we have some 'goofball' with a license directing you 'where to go, what to do, what color to where'. 

    Development of soccer needs a serious change and the first step is for player to learn to play faster which is done by forcing them to new parameters of play....

  20. Robert Haynes replied, August 18, 2022 at 11:55 a.m.

    Well said. 
    The days of USW dominance are gone. With this team you had Horrible passing out of the back and poor defending, NO midfield presense, skill nor ability to control tempo. Turbo ball is dead and the world knows how to defend and play againist a predicatable USW team. Sad to watch. 

  21. Santiago 1314 replied, August 18, 2022 at 2:51 p.m.

    We got to Work on Developing Tiki-Turbo, like the Men.!!!

  22. frank schoon replied, August 18, 2022 at 4:49 p.m.

    Santi, Tiki-Turbo, is like saying we're playing Brazilian style employing English soccer methods....or in order to control our fast driving we drink slow...  ....Tiki-Turbo doesn't mix....It doesn't work that way...

  23. Santiago 1314 replied, August 18, 2022 at 5:39 p.m.

    Watch Leeds... Aaronson... McKenNie/Juventus ... Mushah/Valencia ... Tillman/Rangers...
    Throw In Pulisic, Reyna, LDLT, Dest, Jedi 
    IT's ABOUT TO HAPPEN.!!!  Something NEW is Coming to Futbol...

  24. Bob Ashpole replied, August 19, 2022 at 2:10 p.m.

    Santi, the mistake I see in US coaches is that they have a very superficial understanding of "tiki-taka". I prefer the title "positional play". 

    What a lot of coaches fail to appreciate is that 1) everyone defends and everyone attacks, 2) the game is not divided into separate moments of play, and 3) like chess the players move to both strong attacking and defending positions so that the players are already in good position if the ball changes hands. These 3 points are why the US coaches are not going to use positional play unless they change their understanding of the game.

    The player's good ball skills and tactics is necessary for good play, but is not the defining characteristic of positional play.

  25. R2 Dad, August 18, 2022 at 10:54 a.m.

    I would like a statement from USSF on the status of our teams and the game. Not generalisms--specifics on coaches,official strategies and players. If no one owns this , no one is responsible. I want USSF to deliver bad news as well as the good news. Grow up USSF--we deserve better!

  26. Hal Barnes, August 18, 2022 at 11:25 a.m.

    A good college team like Florida State, UCLA, UVA or South Carolina would beat this poorly selected and coached team. Had no organization particularly on the back line. Sad to watch. This coaching staff should never be allowed near a national team again. 

  27. frank schoon replied, August 18, 2022 at 4:53 p.m.

    Hal, this is U20 not U23 which is what college soccer is ....

  28. Hal Barnes replied, August 18, 2022 at 6:22 p.m.

    I understand that. But the majority of this team were collegiate players. And they were supposed to be the best of the soph and freshman classes. 

    a typical college team not filled with National team players could beat them. 

  29. Jim Paglia, August 18, 2022 at 12:50 p.m.

    Japan was good but not as great as the U.S. made them look.The U.S. seemed to mostly fire off-target, aimless, desperate passes while running in straight lines with little or no movement by players off the ball. There was an almost total failure to get behind the Japanese defensive line as players only showed interest in making runs if they saw the ball headed in their general direction. We saw ball carriers repeatedly make lightening quick runs only to surrender the ball to modest challenges. The team performance resembled a typical high school effort. There was a nearly total lack of response in game management and tactics by the coaching staff. This tournament was the worst collective performance in a U.S. jersey I've witnessed in a very long time. It's hard to say if this was a team unprepared or lacking the talent to compete at this level. My comments may seem harsh but I hope the powers that be can offer these players a most hopeful path. 

  30. Santiago 1314 replied, August 18, 2022 at 1:03 p.m.

    Not Harsh enough, as far as Coach and USSF are Concerned.!!!

  31. Tusker Donkey replied, August 18, 2022 at 1:18 p.m.

    Totally agree Jim and sadly - our Men's program just produced arguably its best U20 team ever.  Our women's programs (youth/college/YNT) look like they are in the stone ages especially compared to boys now.  

  32. Tusker Donkey, August 18, 2022 at 1:06 p.m.

    This game and game against Dutch were horrible to watch.  The US players were technically and tactically deficient in both games which means Europe/Japan/soon to be South America will be surpassing us at the Senior level.  We need a deep look at how we are developing our young girls in this country and move on from athletes to actual soccer players.  Japan was player for player smaller and less athletic than all of our players but they were actually great soccer players which is why they easily beat us 3-1.  If that group of US U20 players is the best we have then we are in serious trouble down the road for our senior teams.  Obviously, the coach might as well have been pulled off the high school pitch but our players from top youth clubs/colleges should be far more advanced than they were if we believe we are the leaders in the world in women’s soccer.  US Soccer needs a big wake up call to start pushing our youth clubs to build soccer players - not athletes who can play soccer

  33. cony konstin, August 18, 2022 at 1:18 p.m.

    Futsal Futsal Futsal... it can be our version of streetball. We need our players to be playing Queen/King of the court 24/7/365 for free and no adult interference. We need a soccer revolution in the USA. We need 600,000 futsal courts. We need radical and unorthodox change. Private training, $500 cleats, nice uniforms, coaching curriculums, too many youth associations, too much money being spent on gimmicks/smoke n mirrors and fairy tales. THE US NEEDS A SOCCER REVOLUTION!

  34. Santiago 1314 replied, August 18, 2022 at 1:49 p.m.

    Correcta Mundo Cony.... And GET RID OF THE DAMN "BEEP BRAS"...Players aren't even playing for The Head Coach anymore, They are playing for the 3rd Assistant Coach, sitting in the Dug Out, with the iPad... Saying to themselves; "Just Keep Running, because the Coach is Clueless, but the EKG says I'm putting in 10k"(See note about US Player Albert above)

  35. David Crowther, August 18, 2022 at 3:29 p.m.

    Canada played just as abysmally as the US for many of the same reasons.  The only Concacaf team that has played well is Mexico, who deservedly got by the Germans to make the knock out rounds.  Of note is that this Mexico squad is much less reliant on its Mexican-American college players than in the past, featuring instead a lot more players being developed by the LigaMx Feminil teams who are beginning to recieve training similar to their male youth team counterparts, following the model that has made Spain a power in women's soccer.  They have a very clear concept about how to play that works to their strengths.  It also helps that their keeper (a Chivas product) has been very very good.  Their finishing probably isn't good enough to take them much further in this competition, but I'm not surprised that they ended up being by far the strongest Concacaf team in this cup.

  36. Kerry Solomon, August 19, 2022 at 2:49 p.m.

    The players skills were not very good and they were tactically ill- prepared.  They were not well coached.Need to cur loose the coach and find a more competent one

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