COQUIMBO, Chile (Dec. 4, 2008) – The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team booked a place in the championship game of the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup with a hard-fought 1-0 semifinal victory over Germany in front of 15,548 appreciative fans.
In the championship game, the USA will face North Korea, which dramatically defeated France, 2-1, in the other semifinal on goal in second half stoppage. The USA and North Korea square off on Sunday, Dec. 7 at Estadio Municipal de la Florida in Santiago, Chile. Kickoff time 6:30 p.m. local time (4:30 p.m. ET). TV information will be announced at a later date, and ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker will have live coverage.
The match will mark the USA’s first appearance in the final of the FIFA Under-20 tournament since winning the championship in 2002 when it was held as an Under-19 event.
The lone goal of the match came in the 21st minute from forward Sydney Leroux, who knocked in her team-leading fifth goal of the tournament, putting her atop the leader board for the Golden Boot, awarded to the tournament’s top scorer. U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and her strong defensive unit combined to earn the team's fourth shutout performance in five games of the tournament.
The match started on full throttle, as both teams took good chances very early in the match. Germany earned a corner kick in just the second minute that led to a Katharina Baunach shot, but her volley sailed high. In the ninth minute, midfield Nikki Washington sprinted down her right flank and hit a cross that clanked off the cross bar.
Washington was dangerous all night on the wing, consistently beating defenders on the dribble and into space. It was one of several runs in the first half that led to the winning goal. Washington made a great hesitation move to get around two defenders while pushing the ball past them down the right wing. She hit a low, driven ball across the top of the six yard box that Leroux met on a full sprint, sliding to get a foot on the ball and knock it into the lower right corner.
Both teams pressed throughout the remainder of the first half, with the Americans getting the more dangerous opportunities. Leroux got behind the German defense in the 30th minute and tried to chip the German ‘keeper, but the ball went wide of Alisa Vetterlien’s goal.
In the second half, the U.S. settled into a possession game while Germany turned up their attack. But the U.S. was still able to create several good chances. Midfielder Christine Nairn, making her second start of the tournament, hit several dangerous corner kicks, with Leroux nearly netting her second of the game off one of them, sending a header just past the post in the 56th minute.
Halftime substitute Monique Kershowski made a fast impression for the Germans, taking on three U.S. defenders and winning a corner in the 58th minute. The ensuing cross from Baunach led to a shot from distance by Bianca Schmidt, but it was just wide.
Washington was double and triple teamed throughout the second half, which opened up space for her teammates. Midfielders Keelin Winters and Becky Edwards each had a couple of shots from outside the area, but could not turn them on goal.
As the minutes ticked down, Germany built up more and more of an attack and took a handful of shots at Naeher, but most were from long range, including several from Sylvie Banecki, but few gave the U.S. ‘keeper trouble as she upped her streak of scoreless minutes into the tournament to 360.
Germany never stopped pushing for an equalizer and its best chance of the night came in second half stoppage time. After two consecutive corners, Schmidt got forward at the top of the penalty area and with a lot of room in front of her, smacked a hard shot. It skipped low towards the left corner and nearly slid under Naeher, but the U.S. ‘keeper, as she has done all tournament, secured the ball and ended Germany’s hopes for a place in the final.
The USA-North Korea clash is a rematch of the 2008 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup Final held three weeks ago in New Zealand. At that tournament, the USA also defeated Germany in the semifinals but fell to North Korea in overtime in the championship game.
The victory gave the U.S. Women’s National Team programs its ninth berth in the final of a FIFA world women’s world championship, by far the most of any country in the world.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT
Match: U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team vs. Germany
Date: Dec. 4, 2008
Competition: FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup – Semifinal
Venue: Estadio Francisco Sanchez Rumoroso; Coquimbo, Chile
Kickoff: 7 p.m. / 5 p.m.
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
GER 0 0 0
USA – Sydney Leroux (Nikki Washington) 21st minute
USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 6-Elli Reed, 15-Lauren Fowlkes, 17-Nikki Marshall, 3-Meghan Klingenberg; 11-Christine Nairn, 14-Keelin Winters (capt.), 8-Becky Edwards; 16-Nikki Washington, 13-Alex Morgan (10-Michelle Enyeart, 59), 19-Sydney Leroux (5-Kierstan Dallstream, 89)
Subs not used: 4-Liz Harkin, , 7-Alyssa Mautz, 9-Gina DiMartino, 12-Ingrid Wells, 18-Chantel Jones, 21-Cat Parkill
Head Coach: Tony DiCicco
GER: 1-Alisa Vetterlein; 3-Katharina Baunach, 4-Josephine Henning, 5-Carolin Schiewe (capt.), 7-Bianca Schmidt, 8-Nathalie Bock (13-Lisa Schwabb, 57), 9-Isabel Kerschowski (15-Julia Simic, 74), 11-Nicole Banecki, 14-Verena Faisst, 16-Sylvie Banecki, 18-Stephanie Goddard (2-Monique Kerschowski,46)
Subs not used: 10-Nadine Kessler, 12-Desiree Schumann, 17-Marie Pollmann, 21-Jana Burmeister
Not available: 6-Kim Kulig
Head Coach: Maren Meinert
Stats Summary: USA / GER
Shots: 12 / 12
Shots on Goal: 3 / 4
Saves: 4 / 2
Corner Kicks: 11 / 5
Fouls: 5 / 15
Offside: 0 / 1
USA – Keelin Winters (caution) 76th minute
Referee: Sachiko Baba (JPN)
Assistant Referee 1: Allyson Flynn (AUS)
Assistant Referee 2: Airlie Keen (AUS)
Fourth Official: Jacqui Melksham (AUS)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Lauren Fowlkes