March 9, 2012
WORLD CUP BOUND
U.S. Women U-20s clinch a spot
PANAMA CITY, Panama - The U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team scored three first-half goals to defeat Mexico 4-0 in the first semifinal of the CONCACAF U-20 Women's Championship. With the victory, the U.S. clinched a berth in the 2012 FIFA Under-20 FIFA Women's World Cup being held in Japan from Aug. 19 to Sept. 8.
The USA has now qualified for all six FIFA Women's World Cups that have been held at this level, with the first two in 2002 and 2004 being held as U-19 events before it was moved to U-20 in 2006.
The U.S. also advances to the tournament's championship game on Sunday, March 11, where it will face Canada, who were 6-0 winners over Panama. Fans can watch the via a web stream live on CONCACAF.com and follow the action on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.. Kickoff is at 8pm ET
"We're very excited about qualifying for the World Cup," said U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team head coach Steve Swanson. "It's been a busy three months and for a lot of them who didn't qualify for the last FIFA U-17 World Cup one, this is a big thrill. We're excited and also anxious to go on to the final."
Mexico and Friday's semifinal loser will play in a third-place game at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday to determine the third and final FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup berth from CONCACAF.
The USA had consistently dominated its opponents in the attacking third throughout the tournament, scoring 18 goals in group play with 6-0 victories against Guatemala, Cuba and host Panama, and the semifinal against Mexico was no different. The final three U.S. goals came on monumental strikes from outside the penalty area that all stuck into the upper right corner.
The USA opened the scoring just 12 minutes into the match after a dazzling dribble from Katie Stengel in the left side of the penalty box. Stengel slithered past a defender and struck a cross just as the ball touched the end line. Her service was deflected by Mexico goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago at the near post, but the ball made its way to Julie Johnston at the far post and she finished smartly, smashing her chance off once bounce into the roof of the net from close range.
U.S. midfielder Morgan Brian made it 2-0 in the 36th minute off a world class free-kick. After forward Lindsey Horan was hauled down above the top of the penalty area, Morgan spun her perfectly-struck free kick from 27 yards into the upper right corner, giving Santiago no chance. It was Brian's first goal of the tournament.
Just two minutes later it was Horan's turn to leave her mark on the game, dribbling up the middle before curling her unstoppable shot past the stunned Santiago into the upper right corner from just outside the penalty area.
Kealia Ohai became the 11th different U.S. player to score in the tournament when she added the fourth and final goal in the 81st minute. Stengel notched her second assist of the match, dishing to Ohai who received the ball on the left side of the penalty area, then cut back inside to her right to create some space from her defender. She then blasted a shot across the face of the goal that nestled into Friday's ever popular right corner.
U.S. goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin made one save in the 40th minute to earn the clean sheet against Mexico.