AMMAN, Jordan (Oct. 8, 2016) – The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team fell to Japan 3-2 in its final group game at the 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup and was eliminated from the tournament.
After a goal from Ashley Sanchez put the USA up in the 33rd minute, the Americans took a 1-0 lead into halftime and were in position to qualify for the quarterfinals, even after Japan tied the game in the 53rd minute. That all changed around the 68th minute when Ghana scored against Paraguay in the other group match taking place at the same time, meaning the USA needed a goal to win the game and earn the three required points to advance.
Instead, it was Japan that scored twice and the USA is headed home after finishing third in Group D. Japan won the group with nine points from three wins. Ghana finished second with six points from two wins and a loss and the USA was third with three points from an opening game win against Paraguay, followed by losses to Ghana and Japan. Paraguay failed to earn a point. Ghana defeated Paraguay 1-0, meaning the USA would have had to beat Japan to advance.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of how resilient our players were in the first half and the second half, as you saw from the game, our girls never quit,” U.S. U-17 WNT head coach B.J. Snow said following the game. “When you play Japan, in order to win you have to expend so much energy for 90 minutes. And we’ve done it. We beat them three times in a row before tonight. We know what it feels like, and we know what if feels like to coach against them. It is ridiculously hard. You know you’re going to give up chances against Japan, that is inevitable. Our goalkeeper had a really great game, our defense had a great game, and in the end, you have to tip your hat sometimes. The chances that they get, they put them away. We had a couple that we didn’t put away. That’s how the game goes, you take care of your chances and you need a break sometimes. We didn’t get any breaks today.”
Sanchez pulled a goal back in stoppage time for the final score line, converting a penalty kick after she was taken down in the box, but the Americans would have needed two more scores. The USA had two goals called back for offside in the second half.
Japan, as it is apt to do against any team, had most of the possession in the match, but the USA played gritty, smart and organized defense in the first half to keep Japan from creating too much danger. When the Americans gained possession, it looked to counter and put pressure on the Japan back line numerous times in the first half. The USA out-shot Japan 6-3 in the first half, putting three shots on goal to Japan’s zero and got the goal it needed from Sanchez.
“This is something that we’ve all been dreaming of since we were little and it just came to an end tonight,” said U-17 WNT starting goalkeeper Laurel Ivory. “I’m not really thinking about my individual performance tonight because there were so many people on that field that had spectacular performances. There’s a lot of people on that field, not just one, so the team effort is what I’ll focus on.”
Unfortunately for the USA, it couldn’t hold the lead against the reigning champions – who played an excellent second half and eventually out-shot the USA 22-10 for the match. The USA exits after group play for the second time in the three U-17 Women’s World Cup tournaments for which it has qualified.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Ashley Sanchez, 33rd minute: Despite Japan dominating most of the possession the USA got the first goal off a goal kick as Laurel Ivory crushed her service deep into the Japan half of the field. The ball skimmed off the top of a Japanese defender’s head and behind the back line. Sanchez squeezed through two defenders to earn a breakaway and calmly slid the ball just inside the left post from 17 yards out as the goalkeeper attempted to close her down. USA 1, JPN 0
JPN – Riko Ueki, 53rd minute: Japan took a corner kick from the left side and it was headed dangerously on goal. A U.S. defender was able to clear it off the line at the left post, but the ball did not travel far enough and it fell to Ueki, who headed into the roof of the net to tie the game. USA 1, JPN 1
JPN – Oto Kanno (Hinata Miyazawa), 75th minute: Japan got its second goal once a nice combination at the top of the penalty box as 8 slipped in 9 and she had an easy finish to push it past Ivory into the lower left side of the net from eight yards out. USA 1, JPN 2
JPN – Hinata Miyazawa, 77th minute: Japan put a capper on the match off a fantastic finish from distance Miyazawa. She dribbled in from the left side and struck a blast from outside the box the flew into the upper left corner past the flying Ivory. USA 1, JPN 3
USA – Ashley Sanchez (penalty kick), 90+1: Sanchez was brought down in box as she split two defenders and then took the kick herself, slotting the ball into the lower left corner, but it was too little too late for the USA. USA 2, JPN 3. FINAL
Key Saves and Defensive Stops
USA – Laurel Ivory, 51st minute: Riko Ueki got behind the U.S. defense off a nice flick inside the box and was squared up one-on-one with Ivory, albeit from a poor angle. Ueki tried to lift the ball into the far post and Ivory knocked it down with one hand and fell on the loose ball.
JPN – Momoko Tanaka, 56th minute: The USA sent a long pass over the top of the defense on the right side and Civana Kuhlmann ran onto it at the top of the penalty box. She was able to get off a shot, but Tanaka cut down the angle well and gobbled up the shot.
USA – Laurel Ivory, 65th minute: Japan counter-attacked after the USA gave away ball in midfield. Hinata Miyazawa got free inside the box and shot from closer range, but Ivory stood her ground to make what at the time was a key save.
USA – Laurel Ivory, 79th minute: A driven shot from the top of the box forced Ivory to dive hard to her left to push it wide.
USA – Laurel Ivory, 88th minute: With the USA pushing forward in numbers in a last ditch attempt to get the goals it needed, Japan came back the other way and Ivory brilliantly saved a breakaway.
USA – Laurel Ivory, 89th minute: Ivory saved another one-on-one attempt, this time with kick to keep the game close.
JPN – Momoko Tanaka, 90th minute: This time it was the Japanese goalkeeper’s turn to save a breakaway, and she swept the ball off the feet of U.S. substitute Sophie Smith as she tried to dribble around her.
- The USA’s two losses in the last two games of group play marked the first and only losses in international competition for this group of players in this cycle.
- The USA had beaten Japan in 2015 (3-1) and 2016 (2-1) at the U.S. Soccer NTC Invitational.
- Sanchez ends her U-17 international career with 21 goals in 21 games.
- This was the first World Cup cap in the international career of Jordan Canniff.
- The USA made all three allowed subs in the game as Frankie Tagliaferri came on for Jordan Canniff in the 63rd minute, Sophie Smith came on for Jaelin Howell in the 70th and Adrienne Richardson came on for Isabel Rodriguez in the 79th.
- U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team vs. Japan U-17 Women’s National Team
Date: Oct. 8, 2016
Competition: 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – Group D
Venue: Amman International Stadium; Amman, Jordan
Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET
Weather: 73 degrees; clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
JPN 0 3 3
USA – Ashley Sanchez 33rd minute
JPN – Riko Ueki 53
JPN – Oto Kanno (Hinata Miyazawa) 75
JPN – Hinata Miyazawa 77
USA – Ashley Sanchez (penalty kick) 90+1
USA: 1-Laurel Ivory; 9-Kiara Pickett, 5-Karina Rodriguez, 4-Naomi Girma, 13-Isabel Rodriguez (19-Adrienne Richardson, 79); 2-Jordan Canniff (20-Frankie Tagliaferri, 63), 18-Jaelin Howell (3-Sophia Smith, 70), 8-Brianna Pinto, 7-Alex Spaanstra; 10-Ashley Sanchez (capt.), 14-Civana Kehlmann
Subs Not Used: 6-Emily Smith, 11-Kate Wiesner, 12-Meagan McClelland, 15-Kennedy Wesley, 16-Sydney Zandi, 17-Lia Godfrey, 21-Hillary Beall
Head Coach: B.J. Snow
JPN: 1-Momoko Tanaka; 2-Nana Ono, 3-Reina Wakisaka (14-Seira Kojima, 62), 11-Hana Takahashi, 20-Nanami Kitamura; 7-Saori Takarada (15-Remina Chiba, 87), 8-Hinata Miyazawa, 10-Fuka Nagano (capt.), 17-Oto Kanno, 21-Sakura Nojima (13-Mayu Karahashi, 82); 9-Riko Ueki
Subs Not Used: 4-Miyu Takahira, 5-Riko Ushijima, 6-Rio Kanekatsu, 12-Chiaki Kogure, 16-Jun Endo, 18-Mayu Mizuguchi, 19-Miyu Tomita
Head Coach: Naoki Kusunose
Stats Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 10 / 22
Shots on Goal: 7 / 9
Saves: 6 / 5
Corner Kicks: 1 / 8
Fouls: 8 / 11
Offside: 3 / 2
Referee: Yeimy Martinez (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Luzmila Gonzalez (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Liliana Bejarano (BOL)
Fourth Official: Sandra Braz (POR)
ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Ashley Sanchez
After a big 6-1 win against Paraguay in its opening Group D match at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s match, the U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team fell 2-1 to Ghana in its second game and now faces a critical match with defending champion Japan on Oct. 8 at Amman International Stadium in Amman, Jordan. The match will air live on FS2 starting at 11:55 a.m. ET and fans can also watch on the FOX Sports GO app, FOXSportsGo.com and FOXSoccer2GO.com (free code: U17WNT). Follow all the matches of the U.S. U-17 WNT on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt. For full coverage, visit the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup page on ussoccer.com. Players born on or after January 1, 1999 are age-eligible for this tournament.
U.S. U-17 Women’s World Cup Team Roster by Position - DETAILED
GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Hillary Beall (So Cal Blues; Laguna Beach, Calif.), 1-Laurel Ivory (West Florida Flames; Surfside Fla.), 12-Meagan McClelland (PDA; Kearny, N.J.)
DEFENDERS (7): 4-Naomi Girma (Central Valley Crossfire; San Jose, Calif.), 9-Kiara Pickett (Eagles; Santa Barbara, Calif.), 13-Isabel Rodriguez (Michigan Hawks; Canton, Mich.), 5-Karina Rodriguez (So Cal Blues; Torrance, Calif.) 6-Emily Smith (De Anza Force; Los Gatos, Calif.), 15-Kennedy Wesley (So Cal Blues; Rossmoor, Calif.), 11-Kate Wiesner (Slammers FC; Monrovia, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 2-Jordan Canniff (Richmond United; California, Md.), 17-Lia Godfrey (Jacksonville Armada; Fleming Island, Fla.), 18-Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), 8-Brianna Pinto (CASL; Durham, N.C.), 7-Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks; Brighton, Mich.), 20-Frankie Tagliaferri (PDA; Colts Neck, N.J.), 16-Sydney Zandi (Penn Fusion; West Chester, Penn.)
FORWARDS (4): 14-Civana Kuhlmann (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), 19-Adrienne Richardson (Minnesota Thunder Academy; Oakdale, Minn.), 10-Ashley Sanchez (So Cal Blues; Monrovia, Calif.), 3-Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.). MEET THE TEAM.
U-17 WNT vs. Japan: The only meeting previous meeting between the USA and Japan in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup came in the first game of the inaugural tournament in 2008 with Japan defeating the USA 3-2. Former U.S. WNT player and current Boston Breaker Kristie Mewis scored in that game and ended up winning the Bronze Ball as the third best player in the tournament. The teams have met twice during this cycle, once in 2015 and once in 2016, with the USA winning both games. In 2015, the USA triumphed 3-1 on goals from Ashley Sanchez, Emina Ekic and Brianna Pinto. That goal is Pinto’s only score at the U-17 level. Nine players currently on the USA’s WWC roster played in that match while just six Japanese players on their current WWC roster played in that game. In 2016, the USA won 2-1 on a goal from Ashley Sanchez and an own goal from Japan. In that game, 15 players currently on the U.S. WWC roster played while 10 players on the 2016 Japan U-17 WWC roster played, all of whom started.
The Defending U-17 World Champions: Japan, who has qualified for every U-17 Women’s World Cup ever contested, won this tournament in 2014 in Costa Rica, putting on a soccer show the entire tournament, and have also been runners-up once and gone out in the quarterfinals twice. In this year’s tournament, Japan has run roughshod over its first two Group D opponents, winning both games by 5-0 scores. Against Ghana in the opener, Japan scored four goals within the first 27 minutes and added a fifth goal towards the end of the match. Against Paraguay, Japan started fast again, getting a goal from Hana Takahashi in the 4th minute. Midfield Sakura Nojima then scored three goals in 15 minutes to close out the half, tallying in the 29th, 39th off a penalty kick and in the 44th. Once again, Japan added a late goal as Saori Takarada scored in the 89th minute, meaning six players have scored Japan’s 10 goals.
Advancement Scenarios: Japan has all but mathematically qualified for the quarterfinals as even with a loss to the USA, Ghana would need to defeat Paraguay and make up a large goal difference to surpass Japan, which is currently at +10 while Ghana is at -4. The USA would likely win the group with a 3-0 victory over Japan, thereby tying them on points, goal difference and goals scored, while taking the third tie-breaker, head-to-head. Still, the USA will likely need a win of any kind to make it to the quarterfinals as Ghana is heavily favored against Paraguay. A Ghana win would mean six total points for the Black Maidens and the USA is currently sitting on three. The USA could still be eliminated even if it defeats Japan, if Ghana defeats Paraguay and is able to make up it’s -4 goal difference to the USA’s +4, but even a 1-0 win for the USA would mean that Ghana would have to defeat Paraguay 9-0 to make up the goal difference and then would jump ahead of the USA on total goals scored. If Ghana and Paraguay draw, the USA would also just need a draw against Japan to go through as the second-place team in Group D. A U.S. loss would likely send the Americans home, unless Paraguay upsets Ghana, then the USA would likely go through on goal difference.
U.S. Roster Breakdown: Lia Godfrey is the youngest player with a November of 2001 birthday while Tagliaferri is the oldest, having been born on Jan. 18, 1999. Fifteen different youth clubs from nine states are represented on the roster with the So Cal Blues out of Southern California having four players on the roster. Real Colorado, the Michigan Hawks and PDA out of New Jersey have two players each. The roster includes eight players from California (six from Southern, two from Northern), three players from Colorado and two each from Michigan, Florida and New Jersey.
- All USA matches of U-17 WWC to Air on FOX Sports
- VIDEO: Meet the U-17 WWC Team
- VIDEO: A Chip of the Old Soccer Block
- Frankie Goes to Jordan
- USA Loses Hard-Fought Match 2-1 to Ghana
- Jordan in Jordan
- USA Dominates Paraguay 6-1 in Opening Match of 2016 U-17 FIFA WWC
- Five Things to Know About the U-17 FIFA WWC & U-17 WNT
- Kiara Pickett: Channeling Her Inner Warrior Dragon
- 11 Questions with Ashley Sanchez
- 8 Things About Laurel Ivory
- Naomi Girma: A Worldly Experience
- USA Preps in Cyprus Ahead of U-17 WWC in Jordan
- Jaelin Howell: The USA’s Strong Safety
“She may not be fast or athletic, but at least she should be able to walk straight,” the doctors told the parents of baby Francesca Claire Tagliaferri back in 1999.
Tagliaferri was born severally “pigeon-toed” meaning her feet were pointed inward, something that is not uncommon in babies. For the first four months of her life, she wore casts on her legs. Every two weeks her mom would bring her to the doctor. They would cut off the plaster and replace them with new ones, slowly turning her feet towards the outside so her toes would point forward.
Tagliaferri wore casts on her legs for the first four months of her life.
It worked. She was soon walking, then running, and by the time she was ready to play soccer, running pretty darn fast.
“Well, not in my first year playing,” said Tagliaferri (pronounced with a silent g), who everyone calls Frankie. “My first year I just followed the pack with my back to the ball and looked at my parents the whole time. My parents didn’t think soccer was going to be my sport, but for some reason, in my second season, I turned around, got the ball and started scoring a lot of goals.”
She hasn’t stopped since. If anyone was not aware that she is in fact fast and athletic, her goal that opened the USA’s 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup campaign showed both. After receiving a thread pass from Brianna Pinto with her back to the goal at the top of the penalty box, her first touch to her right set the ball up perfectly as she spun to create separation from a defender before smashing the ball into the back of the net past the onrushing goalkeeper from 11 yards out.
The goal was the 10th of Tagliaferri’s U-17 international career and eighth of 2016 (she would score another in the USA’s second match against Ghana). But more importantly, it was the first for the USA in Jordan.
“It felt amazing,” she said. “We all had so much energy and were trying to get the momentum going and I think that once that goal went in, we settled down and started to play our game. We’ve been waiting for this for two years and it showed in that celebration. It was everyone’s goal.”
Tagliaferri scored the first goal in the USA's 6-1 win against Paraguay in the U-17 WWC opening match on Oct. 1. It was the USA's first goal of the tournament. Photo: FIFA/Getty Images
Tagliaferri comes from an athletic family. Her mom and her aunt played college basketball at Monmouth (her aunt with former U.S. WNT captain Christie Rampone), and her dad played high school football. Her mom was a state champion in the javelin in high school and both her parents were amateur body-builders.
In fact, her parents met at the gym. So it’s no wonder that young Frankie played every sport she could. She remembers her childhood as a whirlwind of sports and fun.
She of course played a lot of basketball but there was also gymnastics, swimming, softball, field hockey and karate. She even did a little modeling.
“I didn’t really like it because it would take up so much of my day having to go into New York City,” said Tagliaferri. The loss for Gap Kids was U.S. Soccer’s gain.
Tagliaferri credits her mom and dad for helping cultivate her competitive edge, calling them the type of parents who would “come home from work and go outside and play soccer, basketball or any other sport” with her for hours. She was the kid who was always bothering her older cousins to play with her every second and the one who got “over-competitive” (her words) during family ping-pong tournaments or volleyball games.
“I was the only one keeping score,” she says.
“My parents would always ask if I wanted to go to basketball practice or soccer practice, and I’d always says soccer,” said Tagliaferri. “I think things clicked when I was about six. Just watching the Women’s National Team and watching girls above me in my clubs made me want to keep doing it. On the way to soccer practice, I’d watch Dare to Dream (the HBO Documentary on the 1999 Women’s World Cup Team). I had a fat head of Mia Hamm in my room, well, I still have it. I wanted to be like them when I was older.”
Things really hit home for Tagliaferri when she went to Giants Stadium in the summer of 2007 to see the U.S. Women play Brazil. Kristine Lilly scored an early free kick and Abby Wambach scored a header off another free kick in front of 17,000 fans.
“It was super motivational,” she said.
She saw thousands of young girls in that stadium who dreamed of playing for their country. She made it happen.
In 2007, she went to Giants Stadium to watch the U.S. WNT play. Nine years later, she is in Jordan representing the USA.
Tagliaferri was part of the previous U-17 WNT cycle as a 14-year-old and one of the two youngest players along with current teammate Civana Kuhlmann. She played in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Jamaica where the USA suffered a crushing loss in penalty kicks and did not make it to the World Cup. The experience was eye-opening and most of all, educational.
“I think about back then and I was a young girl that had an opportunity that came very suddenly,” said Tagliaferri. “It was amazing to be with the older girls and to learn from (U.S. head coach) B.J. (Snow). It enabled me to get a lot of experience which included a few bumps in the road, but that made me a better player and a more confident player. It made me work harder to do what I had to do to get back here and keep moving forward. I felt so privileged to be in that environment at such a young age.”
Tagliaferri is now embracing everything it means to be an elite soccer player. She has been working with a nutritionist to adjust her diet for maximum performance while increasing her focus on fitness, although she knows at just 17-years-old, she has much soccer ahead. She has committed to attend Penn State in the fall of 2017.
There in Happy Valley, fans will see that she still is a bit pigeon-toed, but since her dad once told her that some of the greatest athletes were as well - Jackie Robinson, Michael Jordan, John Elway and Dominique Wilkins to name a few – that’s just fine with Frankie.
“Someone told me that (1991 Women’s World Cup and 1996 Olympian) Carin Gabarra was really pigeon-toed,” said Tagliaferri. “Since she retired before I was born, I’m going to have to see if I can find some video on YouTube.”