Match Preview: U-17 WNT Faces Japan in Crucial Group Finale with Advancement on the Line

The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team 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 and NBC Universo starting at 11:55 a.m. ET and fans can also watch on the FOX Sports GO app, and (free code: U17WNT).

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, and (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 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.