Nov. 19, 2008
Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer
CHILLAN, Chile - The U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team opened the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup with a rousing 3-0 victory over France as forward Sydney Leroux came off the bench at halftime to play a part in all three goals, setting up the first and scoring two of her own.
After a 0-0 draw between Argentina and China in the first game of the doubleheader, the U.S. now sits in first place in Group B with three points. The Americans will take on Argentina for their second match in Chillan on Saturday, Nov. 22 live on ESPN360.com at 10 a.m. ET before traveling to Temuco to face China on Tuesday, Nov. 26 in a match that can be seen live on ESPNU at 2 p.m. ET.
In front of a crowd 4,300 on a hot day at Estadio Nelson Oryuzan, Leroux replaced Michelle Enyeart at the break and after only 10 minutes on the field, set up Alex Morgan's game-winning goal in the 55th minute. Leroux then put the match away with goals in the 56th and 71st minutes, just her third and fourth strikes of 2008.
At the other end of the field, U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher showed why she is considered one of the top goalkeepers in the world for her age group, coming up with two spectacular saves in the second half to earn the shutout.
"It was a much closer game than the score indicated and I think Alyssa preserved the shutout with two fantastic saves," said U.S. head coach Tony DiCicco. "Today, it was Sydney who was the star. I have a lot of players who can step in and be the star. We felt that this was the right situation where Sydney could step in and help us in the second half. She was very determined to prove that we were correct."
The Americans started strong and it took just two minutes to create some danger when Morgan turned a half-chance into a near goal, cranking a shot off the left post from a difficult angle just inside the penalty area. In the first half, the U.S. had no answer for French goalkeeper Karima Benameur, even when she wasn't aided by the framework, as she was called upon to make a number of excellent saves. She was tested in just the sixth minute when Enyeart made a curling run behind her defender and had only the `keeper to beat, but Benameur came racing out of the net to stuff the shot near the top of the penalty area.
France also created a number of dangerous opportunities at the other end of the field. Charlotte Loze pounced on an errant pass in the back and charged into the box, but her shot was smothered by two U.S. defenders and Naeher before rolling out for a corner kick. In the 19th minute, during a scramble in front of the U.S. net after one of France's eight corner kicks on the afternoon, Loze played a cross into the box and it skipped around a bit before dropping right in front of the goal to Eugenie Le Sommer. Incredibly, Le Sommer launched her shot high over the net from about two feet in front of the goal line.
DiCicco made the offensive change coming out of the locker room and the U.S. finally broke through to make it 1-0 as flank midfielder Nikki Washington sprung Leroux down the right side of the field. She touched the ball around a defender and hit knee-height driven cross right into the path of Morgan, whose thumping volley beat Benameur from 10 yards.
Just three minutes later, Leroux finished her first goal as Washington toasted her defender to the endline in the right side of the penalty box and played a perfect pass back into the seam. On the full run, the U.S. forward struck her low, first-time shot through traffic to double the USA's lead.
In the 64th minute, France almost cut the lead in half as Nora Coton Pelagie cranked a shot from distance that looked liked it would sail into the roof of the net, but Naeher dove and was able get enough glove on the ball to tip it off the underside of the crossbar before the USA cleared away. Fifteen minutes later, Naeher got another ovation as she leapt across the goal to slap away another blast, this one by Charlotte Bilbault that seemed surely to be heading into the right side netting.
"It was a very good win for us, obviously in the first game of any tournament you want to come out strong and I think we did that for pretty much the whole game," said Naeher. "Coming away with three goals and a shutout is a very good way to start this tournament."
Leroux made it 3-0 in the 71st minute when she finished after a long Morgan throw-in from the right sideline. Midfielder Becky Edwards flicked the ball on perfectly to the near post, where Leroux battled Benameur and a defender for the ball in the air. Leroux got just enough of her head on the ball as the French goalkeeper crashed into her defender, nodding it over the pack of French players and over the goal line.
"It was really good for our team," said Leroux. "We worked hard today and came out with a win, which felt good. It's great to be here and it's an amazing feeling to be able to get a win today as a team. I love being a part of this team whether I start or come on as a sub."
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT
Match: U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team vs. France
Date: Nov. 19, 2008
Competition: FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup - Group B
Venue: Estadio Nelson Oryuzan; Chillan, Chile
Kickoff: 3 p.m. local / 1 p.m. ET
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny
USA: 1-Alyssa Naher; 5-Kiersten Dallstream, 17-Nikki Marshall, 15-Lauren Fowlkes, 3-Meghan Klingenberg; 8-Becky Edwards (11-Christine Nairn, 78), 14-Keelin Winters (capt.), 12-Ingrid Wells; 16-Nikki Washington (6-Elli Reed, 84), 13-Alex Morgan, 10-Michelle Enyeart (19-Sydney Leroux, 46)
Subs not used: 2-Kaley Fountain, 4-Liz Harkin, 7-Alyssa Mautz, 9-Gina DiMartino, 18-Chantel Jones, 21-Cat Parkhill
Head Coach: Tony DiCicco
FRA: 16-Karima Benameur; 2-Gwenaelle Butel, 4-Wendie Renard, 5-Laura Agard, 3-Emilie Gossollin (capt.); 8-Melissa Plaza, 14-Ludivine Bultel (17-Nora Coton Pelagie, 46), 10-Eugenie Le Sommer (15-Kheira Hamraoui, 69), 6-Charlotte Bilbault, 9-Marie-Laure Delie, 7-Charlotte Loze (11-Julie Machart, 78)
Subs not used: 1-Meline Gerard, 12-Livia Jean, 13-Delphine Chatelin, 18-Marine Pervier, 19-Alix Faye Chellali, 20-Fanny Tenret, 21-Alisson Branger
Head Coach: Stephane Pilard
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: