USA needs a draw against a powerful German team in Japan next week to ensure a Quarter Final place in FIFA’s Under 20 Women’s Word Cup after being held 1-1 by a plucky China PR team in Hiroshima.
It was the second Group D game for the USA who beat Ghana 4-0 in their opener on Monday. Defending champions Germany, who had earlier trounced China 4-0 became the first team to clinch a spot in the final eight with a 1-0 win over Ghana.
China took a surprise lead against the favored Americans in the 19th minute when Shen Lili beat goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin from 14 yards out. Haeberlin was fortunate not to be penalized when the St. Petersburg native came flying off her line to clatter into a Chinese striker who had broken through the American defense.
USA struck back on the half-hour mark when Kealia Ohai powered into the Chinese box before pulling the ball back from the touchline for Maya Hayes to slot the ball into the near corner for her fourth of the tournament. Hayes, from Montclair, New Jersey is on track to claim the tournament Golden Boot after netting three against Ghana.
USA dominated possession for much of the match but failed to conjure many opportunities. They did come close, though, to snatching a win when captain Julie Johnston curled in a corner which bounced off the post.
Despite the draw USA are in a good position to go through. Only a loss to Germany and a Chinese win against Ghana combined with a five-goal differential swing will see them fail. On the other hand, a win against Germany will see the Americans win the group and get the top-seeded draw in the play-off round.
Steve Swanson, the USA coach told reporters: “It was good football but for the last 20 minutes, China was well organized. This was a good lesson for the players. We created a lot of chances but the goals are missing. Germany is a great team, well organized with a good coach. We have respect for them. This will be another test for us but we expected that from the group which is really strong. There is no advantage for us that Germany is already in the next round”
Germany created numerous chances against Ghana in the other Group D game but struggled to get anything past Ghana’s in-form keeper, Patrica Mantey, Ghana’s defense was finally broken in the dying seconds of the game when 18-year old substitute Lena Lotzen netted the winner.
In the Group C games played today Norway came from a goal down to upset Canada 2-1 and Korea DPR set new ghoalscoring record for the event when the they hammered luckless Argentina 9-0.
The standings after the first two games: