July 21, 2010
Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer
BIELEFELD, Germany - The U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team defeated the Korea Republic 1-0 in the final Group D match for both teams at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup as forward Sydney Leroux scored the winning goal midway through the first half.
The win and accompanying three points vaulted the young Americans over the Koreans and into first place in the group with seven points. Korea finished with six points while Ghana, which defeated Switzerland 2-0 in the other Group D match, finished with four points. The Swiss exit the tournament without a point or a goal.
The USA will now face Group C runner-up Nigeria in the quarterfinals on July 25 in Augsburg (5:30 a.m. ET on ESPNU). Nigeria looked to be on its way to a 1-0 victory which would have given the Africans the group title and put the Mexicans out of the tournament, but a 77th minute equalizer from Stanford University's Alina Garciamendez gave both teams one point and eliminated Japan, despite its 3-1 victory against England in the other Group C match. With the tie, Mexico not only advances, but finishes atop the group and will face the South Koreans in the quarterfinals on July 25 in Dresden.
In the other two quarterfinals to be played on July 24, Germany will face Korea DPR in Bochum while Sweden takes on Colombia in Bielefeld.
There was not much excitement through the first 15 minutes of the match except for a swerving 25-yard blast from U.S. midfielder Christine Nairn in just second minute that flew wide of the left post.
Zakiya Bywaters got behind the Korea defense twice in the left side of the penalty area around the 18th minute, but could not get a clean pass to a U.S. attacker to finish.
The USA did score in the 21st minute and once again it was Leroux, who upped her tournament total to five goals tying her for second with Korean Ji So Yun and behind Germany's Alexandra Popp, who has found the net six times.
The goal came after Amber Brooks won a tackle at midfield and ran a two-person counter attack with Leroux. Brooks, who played an excellent match in the center with Nairn, dribbled about 20 yards before placing a perfect pass between two defenders to the sprinting Leroux who blazed through for a one-on-one chance against Korean goalkeeper Moon So Ri. At first it looked as if Leroux's touch toward goal was going to be too hard, but with a last second burst of speed and a perfect slide from about the penalty spot, she poked the ball past the onrushing `keeper and into the left corner of the net.
The goal was also Leroux's 10th in U-20 Women's World Cup play, moving her past Kelly Wilson on the USA's all-time U-19/U-20 World Cup scoring list and tying Christine Sinclair for most goals scored in FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup play.
Both countries sat back a bit during the match and invited the other to attack, but the skillful Koreans found it difficult to penetrate the USA's team defense.
The Koreans did get a chance midway through the first half after a moment of disorganization by the U.S. backs down the left flank allowed Jeoun Eun Ha to knock a cross into the six-yard box, but it was gobbled up well at the near post by U.S. goalkeeper Bianca Henninger.
The USA did give the ball away a bit too much in the midfield during the first half, which led to Korea's most dangerous chance before the break. It came in the 38th minute when Kang Yumi got in behind the U.S. defense in the right side of the penalty box and struck a shot that Henninger had to push over the top.
In the second half, Korea had more possession, but the Americans sat back and protected the lead well. Korea rested its top striker, Ji, in the first half but she came on to start the second in search of an equalizer.
A U.S. foul just outside the left corner of the penalty box in the 51st minute gave Ji a direct kick at goal, but she hit it wide left by 10 yards. Then, Henninger had to execute a great clearing punch off a cross in the 57th from right wing.
In the 58th minute, a long ball bounced through the U.S. defense and Henninger came up with a huge save on Ji, sliding to knock the shot away with her legs. It was Korea's best, and last, good chance of the game.
Aside from that shot, it was the U.S. which should have put the match away in the second half. In the 53rd minute, Kristie Mewis slipped a perfect pass behind the Korea defense to Leroux, but with two defenders closing in, the U.S. striker's hard shot was well saved by Moon, who had come off her line quickly to close the angle.
In the 62nd minute, the ball popped out of a scrum at the top of the penalty area and substitute Teresa Noyola cracked a shot that pulled a flying save from Moon who palmed the ball away for a corner kick.
In the 67th minute, Leroux once again was sent in on a breakaway off a perfect penetrating pass from Mewis, but as she tried to bend the ball into the right corner, Moon got her shin on the ball to deflect it away for another corner kick.
Korea was dealt a harsh blow in the 72nd minute when defender Lim Seon Joo went down with a sprained ankle and could not return. Eight minutes earlier, Korean head coach Choi In Cheul had made the last of his three allowed substitutes so his squad had to play a woman down for the last 18 minutes.
While Korea had some good possession at the end of the game, the only shot they could muster after going down to 10 players came from just in front of the center circle as Kim Hye Ri rifled a 50-yard attempt that was knuckling toward the goal before Henninger grabbed it.
In the 84th minute, Leroux failed to convert a scoring chance that certainly would have clinched the game after Noyola put her though into the left side of the penalty area. Leroux touched the ball around Moon, but could not turn her shot on goal quickly enough and a sliding Korean defender got just enough of her toe on the ball to re-direct it over the end line for a corner kick.
The match against the Nigerians will mark the first time the USA has faced an African team in the knockout rounds of a FIFA Women's World Cup competition.
U.S. U-20 Women's National Team Match Report
Match: U.S. U-20 Women's National Team vs. Korea Republic U-20 Women's National Team
Date: July 21, 2010
Competition: 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup
Venue: FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Stadium; Bielefeld, Germany
Kickoff: 6 p.m. Local (12 p.m. ET)
Weather: Cloudy, warm; 88 degrees
USA - Sydney Leroux (Amber Brooks) - 21st minute
USA: 1-Bianca Henninger; 3-Rachel Quon, 2-Toni Pressley, 4-Crystal Dunn, 5-Kendall Johnson; 16-Maya Hayes (10-Teresa Noyola, 57), 20-Amber Brooks, 11-Christine Nairn, 12-Zakiya Bywaters (7-Courtney Verloo, 69); 9-Kristie Mewis, 19-Sydney Leroux (capt.) (14-Meg Morris, 86)
Subs not used: 6-Vicki DiMartino, 8-Samantha Mewis, 13-Mollie Pathman, 15-Jenna Richmond, 17-Casey Short, 18-Adrianna Franch, 21-Bryane Heaberlin
Head Coach: Jillian Ellis
KOR: 1-Moon So Ri; 2-Seo Hyun Sook, 5-Lim Seon Joo, 6-Jeong Yeonga, 20-Kim Hye Ri (capt.); 11-Lee Hyun Young (10-Ji So Yun, 46), 15-Lee Young Ju (13-Lee Mi A, 64); 19-Jeoun Eun Ha (14-Kim Jin Young, 56), 7-Kwon Eun Som; 9-Jung Hae In, 17-Kang Yumi
Subs not used: 3-Koh Kyung Yeon, 4-Song Ari, 8-Kim Narae, 12-Jung Ji Soo, 16-Lee Eun Kyung, 18-Kang Ga Ae, 21-Park Hee Young
Head Coach: Choi In Cheul
Statistical Summary: USA / KOR
Shots: 9 / 7
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 3 / 4
Corner Kicks: 7 / 2
Fouls: 9 / 3
Offside: 4 / 2