Mollie Pathman steps over a tackle from Karoline Heinze
The U.S. U-20 WNT learned a harsh lesson about how mistakes can be punished by good teams at a World Cup, losing 3-0 to Germany in its final Group D game, but fortunately it was not a fatal blow as the Americans still qualified for the quarterfinal round.
The USA had a tad bit more possession in the game, but the Germans were more efficient in creating opportunties and capitalized on several defensive breakdowns to seal the match early in the second half.
The USA will face another difficult test when it plays its second match in a row against a former champion of this tournament, taking on North Korea on Aug. 31 in the last of four quarterfinals. The match will be played at Komaba Stadium (coverage starts at 6:20 a.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3), the smallest of the World Cup venues for this tournament as it seats just over 21,000.
The North Koreans rampaged through Group C scoring 15 goals (including nine against hapless Argentina) to win Group D and the USA will certainly have to finish its chances against an athletic and skillful team that had more than a third of its U-20 roster represent their country its 2012 Olympic Team.
The meeting with North Korea will be the first in this tournament since the championship game of the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, won by 2-1 by the USA.
The loss to Germany was just the third ever in this tournament for the USA, but a win on Friday will send the USA to the semfinal of this competition for the fifth time.
U.S. players challenge for a German service
Morgan Brian's pass eludes German captain Ramona Petzelberg