The U.S. WNT side settled for a 0-0 draw with France in its opening match of the U20 Women’s World Cup Monday morning in Papua, New Guinea.
Perhaps settled is not the word, given that Les Bleus was the better of the two teams for long stretches of the game. France had the U.S. on the back foot in the early stages and the fact that defender Kaleigh Riehl was selected as the U.S . Player of the Game on a team featuring Olympian Mallory Pugh and rising star Ashley Sanchez tells its own story.
Although the U.S. defeated Venezuela handily in a pair of matches in its most recent action less than a month ago, more telling is the team’s struggles against better opposition in September when the Americans failed to score over three games versus Brazil, England, and the Korea Republic.
France troubled the U.S with a ball possession style, threatening through the likes of elusive attacker Delphine Cascarino while nullifying the American attack with a powerful and athletic defense led by the impressive Hawa Cissoko.
This U.S. performance bore a worrying similarity to that of the team which was eliminated in the group stages at the U17 World Cup, in that both sides struggled to possess the ball, relying on speedy counter attacks almost exclusively to create scoring chances.
This group of young Americans has time to improve and a draw against the European champions is no reason to hang your heads but it does illustrate once again that the world of women’s soccer is shrinking all the time and the U.S. will have to step it up if it is to maintain its top flight status.
The U.S. is in action again on Thursday against New Zealand. New Zealand beat Ghana 1-0 in its group play opener. The Americans close out the opening round on November 21 againsr Ghana.
Germany is the defending champion. The U.S and Germany has each win three U20 WWC titles with Korea DPR claiming one.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
FRA 0 0 0
USA: 1-Casey Murphy; 5-Madeline Elliston, 6-Taylor Otto, 3-Kaleigh Riehl, 14-Ellie Jean; 18-Ashley Sanchez, 10-Emily Ogle, 2-Parker Roberts (7-Savannah DeMelo, 65), 8-Courtney Petersen (16-Emily Fox, 76); 9-Mallory Pugh (capt.), 15-Jessie Scarpa (11-Ally Watt, 79)
Subs Not Used: 4-Sabrina Flores, 12-Rose Chandler, 13-Marley Canales, 17-Kelcie Hedge, 19-Natalie Jacobs, 20-Katie Cousins, 21-Brooke Heinsohn
Head Coach: Michelle French
FRA: 1-Mylene Chavas; 3-Sakina Karchaoui, 4-Hawa Cissoko, 12-Heloise Mansuy, 13-Thea Greboval (capt.), 14-Estelle Cascarino; 8-Onema Geyoro, 15-Maelle Garbino (9-Marie-Charlotte Leger, 69), 17-Juliane Gathrat; 7-Delphine Cascarino, 10-Clara Mateo (18-Valerie Gauvin, 83)
Subs Not Used: 2-Marion Romanelli, 5-Pauline Dhaeyer, 6-Laura Condon, 11-Louise Fleury, 16-Cindy Perrault, 19-Cathy Couturier, 20-Anna Clerac, 21-Jade Lebastard
Head Coach: Gilles Eyquem
Stats Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 3 / 17
Shots on Goal: 1 / 4
Saves: 4 / 1
Corner Kicks: 2 / 4
Fouls: 6 / 7
Offside: 1 / 2