Five Things to Know About the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup

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After nearly two years of build-up, 13 training camps and 27 international matches, the 2018 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup has finally arrived for the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team. As the world’s best at this age level gather in France for the culmination of the U-20 cycle, here are five things to know about the tournament.


Contested every two years, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup crowns the world champions for women’s soccer at the Under-20 age level. Sixteen teams from around the globe have qualified through continental competitions to earn their spots in France.

The USA qualified from the Concacaf region alongside Haiti and Mexico. China PR, Japan and Korea DPR represent Asia, Ghana and Nigeria carry the banner for Africa, England, France, Germany, Netherlands and Spain come from Europe, New Zealand earned its berth from Oceania while Brazil and Paraguay punched their tickets from South America. The 16 nations were drawn into four groups of four teams.

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D




China PR






Korea DPR



New Zealand




The top two finishers in each group will advance to the quarterfinals. From there, it’s a win-or-go-home bracket to the tournament final. 

The competition will be contested in four small venues across the Brittany region in northwestern France. Next summer’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be played in nine cities across the whole of France, including Rennes, Brittany’s capital. FIFA mandates that the host of the quadrennial Women’s World Cup also stage the U-20 event the year before, in part to serve as a dry run for the senior event.


Head coach Jitka Klimkova has selected a superbly-talented 21-player roster that arrived in Brittany on July 23 for the World Cup. Fifteen of the players represented the USA at January’s Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship to help the team qualify for the World Cup. Three players return from the 2016 U-20 WWC in Papua New Guinea -- Savannah DeMelo, Emily Fox and Ashley Sanchez—while ten competed at the 2016 U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Jordan, giving the majority of the roster World Cup experience heading into the tournament.

2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Roster by Position (College or Club; Hometown; U-20 Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Hillary Beall (Michigan; Laguna Beach, Calif.; 0/0), Laurel Ivory (Virginia; Surfside, Fla.; 12/0), Amanda McGlynn (Virginia Tech; Jacksonville, Fla.; 10/0) 
DEFENDERS (7): Emily Fox (UNC; Ashburn, Va., 32/3), Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC; San Jose, Calif.; 17/0), Samantha Hiatt (Stanford; Newcastle, Wash.; 11/1), Tara McKeown (USC; Newbury Park, Calif.; 22/0), Zoe Morse (Virginia; East Lansing, Mich.; 19/0), Kiara Pickett (Stanford; Santa Barbara, Calif.; 16/0), Isabel Rodriguez (Ohio State; Canton, Mich.; 19/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Savannah DeMelo (USC; Bellflower, Calif.; 36/5), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 26/2), Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat; Durham, N.C.; 22/3), Taryn Torres (Virginia; Frisco, Texas; 12/2), Viviana Villacorta (UCLA; Lawndale, Calif.; 23/1)   
FORWARDS (6): Erin Gilroy (Tennessee; Bellmore, N.Y.; 4/2), Penelope Hocking (So Cal Blues; Anaheim, Calif.; 9/3), Abigail Kim (California; Vashon, Wash.; 24/6), Ashley Sanchez (UCLA; Monrovia, Calif.; 33/11), Alexa Spaanstra (Virginia; Brighton, Mich.; 3/0), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 25/21) 

Seventeen players just wrapped up their freshman and sophomore years of college, while four come from youth clubs and will be freshmen in the fall. Ten colleges are represented on the roster, with four coming from perennial NCAA power Virginia. The quartet of youth players all spent 2017-18 playing in the inaugural season of the U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy.


The U.S. finished second at the 2018 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship in Trinidad and Tobago but had already qualified for the World Cup by winning a thrilling penalty kick shootout over Haiti in the semifinal. After Haiti scored a late goal in second-half stoppage time, the game went straight to penalty kicks. Goalkeeper Amanda McGlynn, making just her fourth start for the U-20s, made two stellar saves on Haiti’s first two attempts. The Haitians missed their third attempt, setting up defender Zoe Morse to finish a game-winning and Word Cup-clinching PK.

The U-20s have been busy since the World Cup qualifying tournament, playing numerous international matches. While the team’s activities were limited in the fall of 2017 as most players in the pool competed during the college season, the USA has gathered every month in 2018 and its performances have continued to improve.

The U-20s put together an undefeated run at March’s La Manga tournament in Spain, defeating a mix of U-23 and U-20 national teams. In June, the USA took home the tournament title at the prestigious Tournoi Maurice Revello Sud Ladies Cup in France. The World Cup marks the team’s third trip to France this year, after the Sud Ladies Cup and a March pair of friendlies played against Les Bleus at World Cup venues.

That March trip to France kicked off a record-breaking goal scoring streak for forward Sophia Smith. She bagged a brace in the U-20s’ March 6 against France, and has scored in eight straight games since. The nine-game run stands as a Youth National Team record, tying Michelle Akers’ senior WNT streak achieved in 1991. 


The USA sports a proud history at the U-20 Women’s World Cup. This year’s competition marks the ninth WWC at this level and the U.S. has won the tournament three times.

At the inaugural tournament in 2002, then a U-19 world championship, the USA took down host Canada in front of more than 47,000 fans to claim the first-ever title. In 2008, future senior WNT stars Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux helped lead the USA to its second title in Thailand. Four years later in 2012, the U.S. took down three group winners in the knockout rounds to win its third World Cup at this age level.

Germany has also won the tournament three times, while Korea DPR has taken home the trophy twice. In 44 matches at the competition, the USA has lost just five games in regulation, including three to Germany. In heartbreaking fashion, the U.S. has been knocked out of the tournament in penalties three times.

The event has served as a launching pad for future WNT stars at the senior level. Most recently, Mallory Pugh captained the 2016 team in Papua New Guinea. Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz and Samantha Mewis helped the U-20s lift the trophy in 2012, while Alyssa Naeher backstopped Leroux and Morgan’s 2008 team to the championship. Tobin Heath, Kelley O’Hara and Amy Rodriguez appeared at the 2006 tournament in Russia, while Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Rodriguez also represented the U-20s in 2004 in Thailand.


The USA will open play on Monday, Aug. 6 against Asian champion Japan, take on first-time World Cup participant Paraguay on Friday, Aug. 9 and wrap up the group stage on Monday, Aug. 13 against European champion Spain. All three matches will be broadcast in the U.S. on FS2 and are available online on FOX Sports GO.

U.S. Schedule – 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup



Kickoff (ET)



Aug. 6

USA vs. Japan

1:30 p.m.


Stade Guy Piriou; Concarneau, France

Aug. 9

USA vs. Paraguay

1:30 p.m.


Stade Guy Piriou; Concarneau, France

Aug. 13

USA vs. Spain

7:30 a.m.


Stade du Clos Gastel; Dinan-Lehon, France

Fans can follow all of the action from France on U.S. Soccer’s official Facebook, Twitter (@ussoccer_ynt) and Instagram (@ussoccer_ynt) accounts.