On March 8, the Official Draw for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup set the stage for this summer’s tournament. The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team was drawn into Group C alongside Japan, Paraguay and Spain.
Prior to the draw, the USA was in France for two friendlies against the host nation, played in two of the four official World Cup venues. The first fixture took place at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, venue for the semifinal and final rounds. As the U-20s move full force into World Cup prep, head coach Jitka Klimkova broke down the team’s outlook for the tournament.
ussoccer.com: You finally know what’s in store for the USA this summer in France. What are your initial thoughts on Group C?
Jitka Klimkova: Now we can really focus on our opposition. The first game against Japan will be very exciting, we can’t wait for that. The second game is against a Paraguay team that played some really good qualifiers in South America against challenging competition. The third game is against Spain, they won the European championship, so they’re clearly a quality team. There’s nothing but opportunities in front of us to play in Group C against such great opposition.
ussoccer.com: Now that you know your Group C foes, how does it impact your preparation for August?
JK: We already had our plan of camps, but we didn’t confirm our opposition for games. Now, knowing who we play, we will try to find teams to play with similar styles to our group stage opponents. We’ll hopefully play Brazil in June, and that should be a similar opponent to Paraguay. We’re looking to schedule teams that play a similar style to Japan and Spain. I think our preparation for the World Cup will be very efficient.
ussoccer.com: What experience do you have with your Group C opposition?
As a coaching staff, we went to Northern Ireland in August for the UEFA Championship, so we saw Spain play a couple of times, including the final and semifinal. We feel like we have a good idea of their style of play. We also sent a scout to the South American qualifiers who had a chance to see Paraguay play against quality competition.
ussoccer.com: What kind of style can we expect to see from your Group C opponents?
JK: Both Japan and Spain are very possession-oriented teams. For us, the preparation for both games will be bit similar, so it’s good that we won’t need to change much in our game plan against those opponents.
Paraguay is more physical and more direct. That’s the style of soccer that our players see more in the NCAA, so we will be prepared for it. Paraguay is more akin to the competition the players have seen in the college game or at the CONCACACAF Championship. It’s a style that we’re familiar with.
ussoccer.com: What else did you experience at the Official Draw?
JK: It’s great to be here. It’s been great to listen to the plan of what the tournament will actually look like. We spent a day in the Team Services Workshop that broke down all of the details for August. We had the chance to be more specific about our preparations - we’ll we went to the stadiums where we’ll play and the hotels, which is all very helpful.
We can’t wait for August: game one against Japan, game two against Paraguay, game three against Spain. Here we go!