July 14, 2010
Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer
DRESDEN, Germany - The U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team opened Group D play at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup with 1-1 draw against Ghana as forward Sydney Leroux scored in the 70th minute to answer an early goal from the Africans.
Leroux's goal came after Teresa Noyola stripped a Ghana player in midfield and sent Maya Hayes through on a long break-away into the right side of the penalty area. Hayes raced at the `keeper and then slipped a pass square to Leroux who slid to knock the ball into the open net from just inside the six-yard box. It was Leroux's sixth goal in her U-20 Women's World Cup career after scoring five during the 2008 tournament.
The USA is now tied with Ghana for second place in the group behind the Korea Republic, which trounced Switzerland 4-0 in the other Group D match. The USA continues first round play on Saturday, July 17, at Rudolf-Harbig Stadium against the Swiss. The USA-Switzerland match will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 12 p.m. ET and fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.
The match was played in stifling heat that reached almost 90 degrees despite the 6 p.m. local kickoff. Even though seven players in the starting lineup had previous FIFA Women's World Cup experience at the U-17 or U-20 levels, the young Americans suffered from some early jitters when surrendering an early goal off a give-away in midfield in the seventh minute.
That change in possession led to an attack down the right wing which was stalled by U.S. left back Kendall Johnson, but the Americans could not clear their own defensive third. The ball then dropped to Elizabeth Cudjoe, who took a touch forward and cracked an unstoppable shot from at least 30-yards that struck the inside of the left post and rolled around the back of the net.
After the Ghana goal, the majority of the match was controlled by the USA, but the talented Africans showed some great skill and composure on the ball to diffuse pressure while also counter-attacking effectively on few occasions.
After the Ghana goal, the USA racked up five corner kicks to Ghana's zero and at nine shots to Ghana's one before halftime, but some tough defense kept the Americans off the board. The teams combined for 40 shots during the match but the U.S. put just seven of their 25 on goal.
U.S. midfielder Christine Nairn had the first U.S. chance of the game in the 13th minute, but scuffed her shot from 16 yards after a poor Ghana clearance.
In the 22nd minute, a cross from the left wing from Johnson was almost headed into the Ghana net by defender Edem Atovor, but it bounced just over the top of the goal.
One minute later, Ghana had to scramble at the top of its own six-yard box to block point blank shots from Vicki DiMartino and Amber Brooks before the ball was cleared out of danger.
The USA also had several free kicks from dangerous spots during the first half, but Nairn fired over from 30 yards on the half hour and Zakiya Bywaters struck a set play way over the goal from just outside the left corner of the penalty box in the 32nd minute.
Just before halftime, Ghana goalkeeper Patricia Mantey had to bat away a blistering drive from center-back Toni Pressley.
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis made one change at halftime, sending on the speedy Hayes for Vicki DiMartino, and then making another change early in the second half, sending on Noyola for Nairn in the 54th. Those changes would lead to the tying goal.
Leroux had the first chance of the second half in the 54th as she ran onto a nice pass slipped between Ghanaian defenders from Kristie Mewis, but her sliding shot from 18 yards out was well saved by Mantey.
The USA was pressing for the tying goal and looked the more likely of the two sides to score. Ghana, however, did not sit back and remained dangerous while putting together a few fine attacking moves.
Mewis struck a low shot from just outside the right corner of the penalty box in the 60th minute, but it was easily gobbled up at the near post by Mantey.
In the 65th minute, Leroux got her head on a long free-kick service from Pressley, but the ball spun wide right of the goal. Five minutes later, she tied the match, and then the Americans launched an all-out quest for the winning goal which stretched the game out and led to chances for both teams.
In the 72nd minute, Hayes ran onto another long through ball, but her cross was blocked up in the air at the last moment and Mantey grabbed it.
U.S. goalkeeper Bianca Henninger, playing in her first Women's World Cup match, put in an excellent performance and had to knock down a dangerous looking Ghanaian shot in the 79th minute before pouncing on the rebound.
Ghana almost got a break-away of its own soon after, but Pressley ran it down and her center-back partner Crystal Dunn, who played a fine match, swept the ball away.
The USA had several excellent chances to win the game, one coming in the 80th minute after working the ball off a short corner kick to substitute Courtney Verloo at the top of the penalty area, but she lashed her shot over the top.
In the 82nd minute Henninger made another big save as she scooped a dipping shot from distance over the end line for a corner kick.
The USA had two chances to win the game in the five minutes of extra time, most of it given due to numerous stoppages for injured Ghanaians. First, Noyola's shot from the top of the penalty area flew straight into the hands of the goalkeeper. Then Mewis crushed a shot from distance in the last seconds that was seemingly headed into the upper right corner, but somehow Mantey stuck a hand up to deflect the ball away and seconds later the match was over.
Pressley, Johnson, Bywaters, Hayes and Noyola made their World Cup debuts, along with Henninger.
It was the first time the USA has tied an opening match of a U-19/U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup after winning four straight openers since the inaugural tournament in 2002.
U.S. U-20 Women's National Team Match Report
Match: U.S. U-20 Women's National Team vs. Ghana U-20 Women's National Team
Date: July 14, 2010
Competition: 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup
Venue: Rudolf-Harbig Stadium; Dresden, Germany
Kickoff: 6 p.m. Local (12 p.m. ET)
Weather: 88 degrees; Sunny, very hot
GHA - Elizabeth Cudjoe, 7th minute USA - Sydney Leroux (Maya Hayes), 70th minute
USA: 1-Bianca Henninger; 3-Rachel Quon, 2-Tony Pressley, 4-Cyrstal Dunn, 5-Kendall Johnson; 20-Amber Brooks, 11-Christine Nairn (10-Teresa Noyola, 54), 12-Zakiya Bywaters (Courtney Verloo, 77), 9-Kristie Mewis; 6-Vicki DiMartino (16-Maya Hayes, 46), 19-Sydney Leroux (capt.)
Subs not used: 8-Samantha Mewis, 13-Mollie Pathman, 14-Meg Morris, 15-Jenna Richmond, 17-Casey Short, 18-Adrianna Franch, 21-Bryane Heaberlin
Head Coach: Jillian Ellis
GHA: 21-Patricia Mantey; 4-Janet Egyir, 5-Rosemary Ampem, 12-Mantenn Kobblah, 18-Edem Atovor, 6-Elizabeth Cudjoe (7-Samira Suleman, 67), 11-Deborah Afriyie, 13-Mercy Myles (capt.) (8-Elizabeth Addo, 35), 15-Juliet Achempong, 9-Florence Dadson, 17-Faiza Ibrahim (19-Candice Osei-Agyemang, 83)
Subs not used: 1-Fafali Dumahisi, 2-Felicia Dapaah, 3-Henrietta Annie, 10-Priscilla Saahene, 14-Fauzia Mustapha, 16-Nana Asantewaa, 20-Cynthia Adobia
Head Coach: James Dadzie
Statistical Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 25 / 15
Shots on Goal: 7 / 8
Saves: 7 / 5
Corner Kicks: 11 / 3
Fouls: 4 / 11
Offside: 3 / 2