Categorized | U-20

Drawn into World Cup group with Ghana, Switzerland, Korea

Posted on 22 April 2010 by ASN Staff

The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team has been drawn into Group D of the 2010 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, along with Ghana, Switzerland and the Korea Republic, and will be based in Dresden for its first two games before moving to Bielefeld to finish the first stage. The final draw took place April 22 in Dresden, Germany.

The U.S. will open against Ghana July 14 before facing Switzerland July 17, with both games taking place at the Rudolf-Harbig Stadium in Dresden, a newly built 27,000-seat venue that will also host games of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The U.S. team will then travel to the recently renovated Bielefelder Alm Stadium, a 28,000-seat venue in Bielefeld, to conclude group play against the Koreans.

“I think it’s an exciting draw because these are teams that we haven’t played,” said U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis. “It’s a bit of an unknown. That sometimes can be a negative, but for us, it’s a positive because I think we will be very motivated. There are no pre-conceived thoughts about these opponents. We know we have to prepare well and focus on ourselves. They are all very different kinds of teams from different regions and represent different challenges and different strengths. It will require us to perform very well each game.”

The field of 16 teams was divided into four groups of four, with the host Germany, USA, Brazil and Japan earning the top seeds in the draw. The top two finishers in each group will advance to the quarterfinals. Should the U.S. advance out of Group D, they will face an opponent from Group C, which consists of England, Nigeria, Mexico and Japan.

The USA’s first opponent, Ghana, will be participating in its first FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Ghana took down Congo DR (the USA’s first opponent at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup) by a 5-0 aggregate score in its final round qualifying matches. Ghana is a rising women’s soccer nation in Africa, which has been dominated for years on the women’s side by Nigeria.

The USA was guaranteed to get one European team in its group and it turned out to be the Swiss, who are led by 19-year-old Ramona Bachmann of the WPS expansion team Atlanta Beat. Widely hailed as the best teenager in the world, Bachmann scored the Beat’s first in club history goal in her first WPS match during a 3-1 loss to the Washington Freedom last weekend. The Swiss made their debut at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2006 in Russia but crashed out hard, falling to Mexico 4-2, losing 4-0 to eventual champion Korea DPR, and then 6-0 to the Germans.

Switzerland qualified for the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup by making the final four of the 2009 UEFA U-19 Women’s Championships but gave up three goals in overtime to lose 5-2 to Sweden in the semifinal. The Swiss did pick up a 3-0 win against Germany during group play of that qualifying competition.

The USA’s final opponent, the South Koreans, will be making their second appearance in this event, first participating in 2004 in Thailand, where they fell to the USA 3-0 in the opening match of the tournament for both teams. Korea Republic, which is generally seen as behind Japan, China and North Korea in the women’s game in Asia, nevertheless finished second at last year’s AFC U-19 Women’s Championship in China to ensure a return to this tournament for the first time in six years. The Koreans earned their berth to Germany by defeating the hosts 1-0 in the semifinal, but then fell 2-1 to Japan in the championship game.

The USA and South Korea met in the quarterfinals of the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand with the USA coming away with a 4-2 victory, so many of the same players may meet again this time around.

“It’s definitely an exciting time for us,” said U.S. U-20 WNT forward Sydney Leroux. “We knew going into the draw that every team we play is going to bring their best game against us, and that’s never going to change. I like the teams we got because it’s going to be a challenge and as a team we are definitely up for a challenge.”

The United States has qualified for all five World Championships at this level, with the first two tournaments held as Under-19 competitions. In January, the U.S. won the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship in Guatemala, defeating Mexico in the championship game 1-0 on a late goal from Sydney Leroux.

The U.S. won the first FIFA Under-19 World Championship in 2002 in an overtime thriller against host Canada. Current U.S. Women’s National Team player Lindsay Tarpley scored the golden goal in the final and captained that side. In 2004, the U.S. fell to eventual champion Germany in the semifinals and defeated Brazil, 3-0, in the third-place match. Two years later in Russia, the Americans finished fourth after falling to Brazil in a penalty shootout in the third-place game. Last time around, the USA played one of its most solid youth World Cup tournaments ever, defeating Germany in the semifinal 2-0, and then downing North Korea 2-1 to win the U 20 Women’s World Cup in front of a crowd of 12,000 in Santiago, Chile.

In continuing preparation for the tournament, U.S. head coach Jill Ellis will hold three more training camps before heading to Germany for the U-20 Women’s World Cup. The U.S. team will train at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., in mid-May while also traveling to Germany in June for some pre-World Cup exhibitions against Japan on June 10 and Germany on June 13 in Bielefeld, which will host the USA’s final group match this summer.

2010 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup

Group D Schedule
July 14 USA vs. Ghana Rudolf-Harbig Stadium; Dresden, Germany
July 14 Switzerland vs. Korea Republic Rudolf-Harbig Stadium; Dresden, Germany
July 17 USA vs. Switzerland Rudolf-Harbig Stadium; Dresden, Germany
July 17 Ghana vs. Korea Republic Rudolf-Harbig Stadium; Dresden, Germany
July 21 USA vs. Korea Republic Bielefelder Alm Stadium; Bielefeld, Germany
July 21 Ghana vs. Switzerland Ruhrstadion; Bochum, Germany

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