HAMILTON, New Zealand (November 2, 2008) – The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team rebounded from a poor first half and a 1-0 deficit to score three goals after the break, pulling out a 3-1 win against Paraguay in its second Group C match at the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
The USA will now meet France on Nov. 5 at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium in the final Group C match for both teams with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.
In the other Group C game, Japan continued its spectacular play with a 7-1 demolition of France, a game in which Japan led 5-1 after just 38 minutes and scored four in a 13-minute span. The result was especially positive for the Americans, who ended their early match with a plus-one goal difference to France’s plus-four. Japan’s romp in the later game flipped France’s difference to minus-2 and now the U.S. can advance to the quarters with a win or a draw.
U.S. head coach Kazbek Tambi made eight changes from the lineup that faced Japan in the first match and even with all the switches, the U.S. took the game to the South Americans in the early going. The Americans created a handful of scoring chances and had several dangerous looking crosses, mostly through the left flank work of Olivia Klei, but the best first half chance came from the right wing in the 27th minute.
Forward Samantha Johnson did well to wiggle free inside the penalty area and ran uncontested at the near post. She drew the ‘keeper and slid the ball across the face of the goal, but somehow Alexis Harris cut her shot wide left from inside the six yard box despite the open net.
In the 31st minute, U.S. captain Kristie Mewis took off on a long dribbling run followed by a shot, but it skipped wide right from 22 yards out.
During the last 15 minutes of the half, Paraguay got a little rhythm and had several nice attacks, almost all of them through Gloria Villlamayor, who gave the USA fits in the first half on the left side. On the goal, Villamayor lost two U.S. defenders in the left corner and dribbled down the end line. Her crossed then eluded two U.S. players who might have had a chance to clear and fell to the feet of the diminutive Rebecca Fernandez, whose quick toe-poke beat U.S. ‘keeper Taylor Vancil into the lower right corner.
Paraguay’s shock score sent the USA into halftime down by a goal and needing at least two in the second half to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
At halftime, Tambi sent on forwards Vicki DiMartino and Courtney Verloo and the duo immediately made a difference as the USA started to dominate the match.
Still, the U.S. caught a break just three minutes into the second half as Harris, who played a fine match at the defensive midfield slot, sent an excellent weak-side chip to Elizabeth Eddy on the right wing. Paraguayan goalkeeper Zulma Orue came sliding out in the deep right corner of the penalty area, but couldn’t corral the ball. Eddy popped free with it and crossed into a penalty box devoid of U.S. players. Somehow Paraguayan defender Cris Marbel Flores bundled the cross, which was not originally headed into the goal, into her own net as she tried to clear and suddenly the USA had 42 minutes to get a winning goal.
They would get two more, the first courtesy of DiMartino who bagged her second of the tournament in the 78th minute. With the match starting to move into nervous time for the Americans, the U.S. burst forward on a counter-attack down the right side after a rare Paraguay foray and once again Eddy crossed into the middle. The ball skipped off a Paraguayan player to Klei, who perfectly one-touched the ball into the path of DiMartino and the U.S. forward easily finished from the center of the penalty area into the lower right corner from eight yards out, putting the USA ahead.
The U.S. could easily have scored a few more goals as Verloo missed a sitter in the 66th minute after DiMartino had played her a square-pass inside the six yard box. Verloo also smacked a shot off the base of the left post in the 81st minute.
Verloo would not miss in the 83rd minute as she scored the USA’s third goal after winning a ball deep in Paraguyan territory. She cut into the middle and powered a 22-yard drive into the upper left corner for the final margin. Verloo put the ball into the net one more time in the game after a Mewis header had been saved by the ‘keeper, but she was correctly whistled for offside. Verloo also saw a shot pushed off the right post by Orue.
The Americans had plenty of flank play in the game, consistently getting around the outside of Paraguayan defense, but too many services were not precise and were cleared away by scrambling defenders. Paraguay did manage nine shots in the match, but six were in the first half and none of the three after the break troubled Vancil. The loss eliminated the Paraguayans from the tournament in their first appearance at a FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Defenders Crystal Dunn and Morgan Brian (the USA’s youngest player at 15), midfielders Harris and Kate Bennett and forwards Hayley Brock and Johnson saw their first action of the tournament.
The U.S. team will leave tomorrow for the short bus ride to Auckland in preparation for the all-important match against France that kicks off at 4 p.m. local time (10 p.m. ET on Nov. 4). Fans can follow all the action on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
U.S. UNDER-17 WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT
Match: United States U-17 Women's National Team vs. Paraguay
Date: Nov. 2, 2008
Competition: 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – Group C
Venue: Waikato Stadium; Hamilton, New Zealand
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (8 p.m. ET Nov. 1)
Weather: 61 degrees, cloudy, cool
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 3 3
PAR 1 0 1
PAR – Rebecca Fernandez (Gloria Villmayor) 32nd minute
USA – Own Goal (Cris Marbel Flores) 48.
USA -- Vicki DiMartino (Olivia Klei) 77.
USA – Courtney Verloo 83.
USA: 18-Taylor Vancil; 4-Crystal Dunn, 6-Cloee Colohan, 16-Morgan Brian; 19-Elizabeth Eddy (14-Mandy Laddish, 78), 2-Alexis Harris, 15-Kate Bennett, 10-Kristie Mewis (Capt.), 20-Olivia Klei, 12-Hayley Brock (8-Vicki DiMartino, 46), 9-Samantha Johnson (7-Courtney Verloo, 46).
Subs not used: 1-Alexa Gaul, 3-Amber Brooks, 5-Erika Tymrak, 11-Samantha Mewis, 13-Julia Roberts, 17-Rachel Quon, 21-Jennifer Pettigrew.
Head Coach: Kazbek Tambi
PAR: 1-Zulma Orue; 3-Cris Marbel Flores, 4-Noelia Cuevas (17-Maria Toledo, 65), 5-Paola Genes; 8-Paola Zalazar, 10-Ana Fleitas (18-Jacqueline Rivas, 88), 14-Evelyn Armoa, 20-Mara Talavera; 7-Rebecca Fernandez, 9-Karen Ruis Diaz (Capt.), 19-Melissa Parada, 65), 11-Gloria Villlamayor.
Subs Not Used: 2-Erika Rolan, 12-Sara Torres, 13-Raquel Carreras, 15-Macarena Toledo, 16-Mirna Diaz, 21-Vivian Gonzales.
Suspended: 6-Jacqueline Gonzalez.
Head Coach: Carlos Baez
Stats Summary: USA / PAR
Shots: 19 / 9
Shots on Goal: 8 / 3
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 8 / 2
Fouls: 16 / 16
Offside: 3 / 1
PAR – Paola Genes (caution) 55th minute.
USA – Cloee Colohan (caution) 69.
PAR – Gloria Villamayor (caution) 89.
Referee: Thalia Mitsi (GRE)
Assistant Referee 1: Maria Lisicka (SVK)
Assistant Referee 2: Romina Santuari (ITA)
Fourth Official: Michelle Pye (CAN)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match:
Group C Standings
Japan 3, USA 2
France 6, Paraguay 2
USA 3, Paraguay 1
Japan 7, France 1
USA vs. France
Japan vs. Paraguay