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U.S. Under-20 WNT Defeats Costa Rica 2-1 to Qualify for 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany

  • Victory in Semifinal of CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championships Sends USA to Fifth Consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup in This Age Group
  • Kristie Mewis and Teresa Noyola Tally Second Half Goals for the USA
  • U.S. will Face Canada or Mexico for Regional Title on Jan. 30 at 5:30 p.m. ET, Live on Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports Espanol, and’s MatchTracker

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (Jan. 28, 2010) – Second-half goals from Kristie Mewis and Teresa Noyola, both from set plays, led the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team to a 2-1 victory against Costa Rica in the first semifinal of the 2010 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championships, to earn a berth to the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany.

The Americans will face the winner of the Canada-Mexico semifinal for the CONCACAF regional title on Jan. 30 at 5:30 p.m., in a match that will be televised live on Fox Sports Espanol and streamed live on Fans can also follow live on’s MatchTracker. Fox Soccer Channel will air the match on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. ET.

The winner of the Canada-Mexico match will also qualify for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, along with the winner of the third-place match. That game between the two semifinal losers will be televised live on Jan. 30 at 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Soccer Channel and streamed live on

The last time the U.S. won the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship was in 2006, when they topped Mexico in the semifinals and Canada in the final to take the regional crown. In 2008, the U.S. dropped a 1-0 decision to Canada in the championship game, but went on to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup later that year.

“First, we are thrilled to be going to the World Cup,” said U.S. head coach Jill Ellis. “I thought we had a better second half; we won more 50-50 balls and we kept better possession of the ball. We raised our level in the second half, which is what we needed to do, and the players responded well. It was a bit unfortunate to give up a goal but I think the players are happy to be moving on.”

Costa Rica, which lost 4-0 to the USA in the semifinal of the last CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship two years ago, put up quite a battle in its quest to earn a berth to Germany. The committed Ticas played a physical match that featured numerous hard tackles and challenges from behind, but it was those fouls that eventually did in the Central Americans.

In the 60th minute, Zakiya Bywaters, who had entered the game just three minutes earlier, was fouled on the left wing as she tried to take on a defender. U.S. right back Rachel Quon took the free kick and sent a perfect in-swinger into the penalty area. Mewis sliced in between two Costa Rican defenders and just beat goalkeeper Priscilla Tapia to the ball, bravely rising in traffic to redirect her header into the lower right corner from six yards out.

The USA doubled its lead with the eventual game-winner in the 71st minute after Sydney Leroux was chopped down while make a lateral dribbling move across the top of the penalty box. With the ball placed just to the left of the penalty arc, Noyola drilled the 23-yeard free kick over the wall and into the left corner. The ball was so well hit that Tapia barely moved.

The goals were the second of the tournament for both Mewis and Noyola.

Costa Rica seemed to lose a little steam after going down by two goals, while the Americans attacked aggressively for a third. Seconds after Noyola’s goal, Leroux barely missed connecting on a diving header off a left wing cross from Bywaters.

Still, it was Costa Rica that would score the final goal of the match, albeit on its only real chance of the second half. The goal came in the 77th minute when Ana Aguilar crossed from the right wing. Amazingly, the ball ricocheted off both U.S. central defenders, first hitting Toni Pressley and then Crystal Dunn, before falling right into the path of Raquel Rodríguez Cedeño, who then showed why she is her team’s leading scorer. Cedeno got a tiny bit of separation from Quon and pounded a half-volley into the upper right corner from six yards out.

The Americans were able to easily put away the rest of the match against the tired Costa Ricans to book their tickets to Germany. The 2010 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held from July 13-Aug. 1 in four German cities.

The first half didn’t feature many chances for either team, but it was Costa Rica that had the best one. Just a minute before halftime, Quon inadvertently committed a handball when an innocuous pass just outside the U.S. penalty area bounced up and hit her on the arm. Costa Rican playmaker Katherine Alvarado almost put the Americans in a big hole as she spun her 19-yard free-kick hard off the left post. The ball bounced outside the penalty area where another Costa Rican player had a crack at it, but sent her shot high over the net.

In just the 3rd minute, Alvarado had skipped a free-kick off the top of the crossbar from 25 yards out.

The USA’s best chances of the first half came in the 23rd minute when Leroux beat Tapia to a cross from Tiffany McCarty, but barely missed getting her head on the ball.

In the 30th minute, Teresa Noyola hit a free kick from 32 yards into the bottom of the wall, but the ball popped up in the air and fell to Jenna Richmond, who looped a 10-yard header to the right post that seemed destined for the side netting. Instead, Tapia flew backwards, got a few gloved fingers on the falling ball, and tipped it off the post before her defender cleared it away.

Nairn hit two good free kicks before the break, the first coming in the 9th minute as she spun a hard shot from about 30 yards that was fairly easily handled by Tarpia at the right post. In the 27th minute, Nairn surprised Costa Rica when she took a quick free kick as Tapia was setting up her defensive wall, but the ball skipped just wide left of the goal.

The Americans started to find better attacking rhythm in the last 20 minutes of the first half and almost scored when Mewis pick-pocketed a Costa Rican defender in the attacking third and then slipped Leroux in on the left side of the penalty area. Leroux dribbled to the end line and had McCarty open in the middle, but hit her cross behind the goal. Leroux, who was busy inside the Costa Rican penalty box all game long, was nevertheless held scoreless for the first time in the tournament.

In the 41st minute, Leroux cut back on a defender from the left wing and sent a cross to Noyola at the far post. The U.S. midfielder brought the ball down well at the right corner of the six yard box, but didn’t get any pace on her shot and Tapia easily grabbed it at the near post.

At the halftime whistle, Nairn, the U.S. captain, pulled her team together for a huddle at midfield and dished out some stern words of encouragement. The USA came out with increased energy for the second half and after just five minutes Mewis had gotten around the defense in the left side of the penalty area to strike a hard shot at the near post. Tapia had to push it wide for a corner kick.

In the 53rd minute, McCarty did some nice work down the right side to earn a corner kick and Pressley got her head on the ensuing cross, but it deflected to Amber Brooks at the far post. Brooks showed some great composure to settle the ball and play a short pass back to Leroux, but her shot was blocked. The ball squirted through to Brooks, who also had her shot blocked, this one from inside the six yard box. That rebound rolled to McCarty, but she fired over the goal from 10 yards away, giving a momentary reprieve to the Ticas.

Costa Rica attempted a few quick counter-attacks during the match that looked promising for a few moments, but the U.S. defense proved stout, running down every through ball while Ticas best chances came via set plays.

U.S. head coach Jill Ellis made one change to the starting lineup that defeated Mexico, 2-1, in the final Group B match three days ago, and that paid valuable dividends as she inserted Mewis at left midfield in place of Bywaters, who would later come on to make an impact at forward. Brooks was the only other substitute, replacing Richmond at halftime.

The USA becomes the 10th country to qualify for the 2010 FIFA Women’s World Cup, joining host Germany, Japan, Korea DPR and Korea Republic from Asia, England, France, Sweden and Switzerland from Europe and New Zealand from Oceania.

The USA has now qualified for all five FIFA U-19 or U-20 Women’s World Cups that have been contested following 2002 in Canada, 2004 in Thailand, 2006 in Russia and 2008 in Chile. The USA won the tournaments in 2002 and 2008, finish third in 2004 and fourth in 2006. 

                                U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team Match Report
Match: U.S. U-20 WNT vs. Costa Rica
Date: Jan. 28, 2010
Competition: 2010 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship; Semifinal
Venue: Estadio Cementos Progreso; Guatemala City, Guatemala
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. CT (2:30 p.m. ET)
Attendance: TBA
Weather: 75 degrees, muggy

Scoring Summary: 1     2     F
USA                         0     2     2
CRC                         0     1     1

USA – Kristie Mewis (Rachel Quon)                     60th minute
USA – Teresa Noyola                                         71
CRC – Raquel Rodríguez Cedeño (Ana Aguilar)     77

USA: 1-Bianca Henninger; 6-Rachel Quon, 4-Crystal Dunn, 11-Tony Pressley, 3-Victoria DiMartino; 15-Kristie Mewis, 13-Jenna Richmond (5-Amber Brooks, 46), 17-Christine Nairn (capt.), 9-Teresa Noyola; 19-Sydney Leroux, 7-Tiffany McCarty (Zakiya Bywaters, 57)
Subs not used: 8-Samantha Mewis, 10-Casey Short, 16-Maya Hayes, 20-Kendall Johnson, 24-Taylor Vancil
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

CRC: 1-Priscilla Tapia; 8-Daniela Cruz, 14-Marianne Ugalde (Paola Alvarado, 29), 20-Hazel Quiros; 10-Katherine Alvarado, 12-Raquel Rodríguez Vasquez, 17-Yocxelin Rodríguez, 19-Fabiola Sánchez; 6-Monica Vargas (5-Ana Aguilar, 61), 9-Carolina Venegas (4-Maria Moreira, 67), 11-Raquel Rodríguez Cedeño
Subs not used: 2-Lina Jaramillo, 15-Paula Campos, 16-Maria Guevara, 18-Jackellene Palacios
Head Coach: Randal Chacón

Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 16 / 5
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 1 / 4
Corner Kicks: 8 / 0
Fouls: 14 / 16
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
CRC – Daniela Cruz     (caution)     70th minute
USA – Christine Nairn  (caution)      78

Referee: Arlene Troya (PAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Jacqueline Saez (PAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Lesbia Tzul (GUA)
Fourth Official: Dianne Ferreira James (GUY)