SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (March 12, 2022) – The U.S. Under-20 Women’s Youth National Team defeated Mexico 2-0 in the championship game of the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship to earn a record seventh Concacaf title for this age group.
A goal early in the game from forward Michelle Cooper and late in first half from midfielder Talia DellaPeruta staked the USA to a 2-0 halftime lead that it would not relinquish.
“I am just so grateful, we all sacrificed so much to be here,” said Cooper after the match. “It’s been years in the making due to COVID-19, so I’m just really proud of all my teammates and we’re all just really excited to come out of here with gold.”
Coming into the match, the USA and Mexico had already secured berths to the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup through semifinal victories, but regional bragging rights were on the line and the USA continued the attacking dominance it has showed throughout the tournament despite a game effort from a tough Mexican side.
The USA gave an early indication how this match would play out, scoring in just the third minute as Cooper hustled to block a clearance from Mexico goalkeeper Celeste Espino and then finished into the open net. The goal gave Cooper eight for the tournament and made her the winner of the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top goal scorer. The 19-year-old was also named the Golden Ball winner as the tournament’s best player.
Amazingly, Cooper’s goal was just the third-fastest the USA has scored from the opening whistle in this tournament. The USA scored in the first minute in the opening game vs. Nicaragua and in the second minute in the Round of 16 match vs. Suriname.
The USA also put the ball into the net after great defensive play in the sixth minute as forward Alyssa Thompson stripped Mexico defender Samantha Lopez in the back, but after a VAR replay, it was determined that the ball had hit Thompson’s arm as she rounded Espino, who got a piece of the ball with her toe to deflect it up and cause the hand ball.
In the 34th minute, Espino came up big, making a great save on a one-on-one chance from forward Simone Jackson after the USA had broken through off a swift counterattack.
The second goal came after the USA earned a penalty kick in the 41st minute when Alexxandra Ramirez chopped down Thompson as she blew past her into the right side of the penalty box. DellaPeruta stepped up and buried the penalty kick with confidence to give the USA a two-goal lead just before halftime.
The goal was the fifth of the tournament for DellaPeruta – and second off a penalty kick – a total made all the more impressive coming from her defensive midfielder position. This victory marked the fourth Concacaf youth title for DellaPeruta, a U.S. record for a youth player. She previously was a part of U.S. teams that won Concacaf titles at the U-15 (2016), U-17 (2018) and U-20 (2020, 2022) levels.
Mexico came closest to scoring in the 50th minute when Natalia Mauleon hit the crossbar from 23 yards out, but the ball was then cleared out of danger.
In the 62nd minute, DellaPeruta had a close-range shot cleared off the goal line after a corner kick and in the 65th, Cooper once again stripped a defender and raced in on goal, but sent her sliding shot wide left. In the 69th minute, Espino made another great save after Cooper had been played into the right side of the penalty area by Trinity Byars and smashed her shot off the Mexican goalkeeper who had done well to cut down the angle.
In the 86th minute, U.S. goalkeeper Neeku Purcell was called upon to make her first difficult save of the tournament, and she came through with class, diving up and back to push a dripping drive from Mauleon over the crossbar and preserve the shutout for the match and the tournament for the USA.
While neither team could score in the second half, on tired legs after a long seven-game tournament, the USA was able to salt the game away despite Mexico pushing to the end for a goal.
GOAL SCORING SUMMARY:
USA – Michelle Cooper, 3rd minute – Cooper gave the USA an early lead with a hustle play, closing down Mexico goalkeeper Celeste Espino quickly after she had received a back pass. Espino tried to touch the ball to her right to evade the sprinting Cooper, but the U.S. captain blocked the clearance back toward the goal and then was first to the ball to blast her shot into the open net from four yards out. USA 1, MEX 0
USA – Talia DellaPeruta (Penalty Kick), 43rd minute – After Alyssa Thompson was chipped down in the right side of the penalty box, DellaPeruta stepped up to bury the spot kick with confidence to double the USA’s lead. USA 2, MEX 0
- The USA has qualified for all 10 FIFA Women’s World Cups held at this age level (plus the 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, which was cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic). The first two World Cups were staged as U-19 events in 2002 and 2004, and the USA has now qualified for the U-20 WWC in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2022.
- On March 10 in the semifinal win vs. Puerto Rico, the USA became the first nation to qualify by its on-field play for the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup. While Costa Rica earned an automatic berth as host, the Asian, European and Oceanic confederations all canceled their qualification tournaments due to the global pandemic and nominated participants based on the results of their respective 2019 U-19 championships. Africa and South America will conclude their World Cup qualifying competitions later this month.
- Twelve of the 16 berths to the 2022 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup have been filled: Costa Rica as host, Japan, Korea DPR and Korea Republic from Asia, the USA, Mexico and Canada from Concacaf, New Zealand from Oceania plus France, Germany, Netherlands and Spain from Europe.
- Mexico started the same lineup as it sent out in the 1-0 semifinal victory against Canada to earn its World Cup berth while the USA made five changes to the lineup that downed Puerto Rico 7-0: Lilly Reale for Aiden McConnell, Samar Guidry for Ayo Oke, Alexis Missimo for Emily Colton, Simone Jackson for Trinity Byars and Alyssa Thompson for Avery Patterson.
- Defender Emily Mason and midfielder Talia DellaPeruta played in this championship game two years ago when the USA defeated Mexico 4-1 for the Concacaf title.
- Through seven games in this tournament, the USA has scored at least three goals in all but three halves of play – the first half of the quarterfinal match vs. Haiti on March 8, when the U.S. was limited to just one goal, the first half of today’s game, when the USA scored twice, and the second half of this game, when the USA failed to score in a half for the first time in the competition.
- Over the seven games of the tournament, the USA broke its tournament scoring record of 40 goals set during the 2020 qualifying tournament. The U.S. tallied 49 goals in total and allowed zero.
- It’s the second time that the USA has not allowed a goal at the tournament. It previously shut out all five games at the 2012 tournament before the tournament expanded to 20 teams in 2020.
- Mexico ended the tournament outscoring its opposition 27-3.
- Midfielder Emily Colton led the USA in assists in the tournament with five.
- Twelve players scored for the U.S. in this tournament: forward Michelle Cooper (8), forward Andrea Kitahata (7), forward Simone Jackson and forward Avery Patterson (6 each), midfielder Talia DellaPeruta (5), midfielder Emily Colton, midfielder Alexis Missimo, forward Alyssa Thompson (3 each), midfielder Olivia Moultrie (2) and defenders Aidan McConnell and Lilly Reale (1 each).
- For the third match in a row, the entire U.S. team wore black armbands in remembrance of Katie Meyer, the former U.S. Youth National Team player and Stanford goalkeeper who tragically passed away last week.
- Kitahata, who scored seven goals in the first four games, missed the final three games of the tournament as she returned to Stanford University after the death of her teammate.
- Forward Sally Menti only played in the first game before she had to depart the tournament with a broken wrist.
- Mexico won the Fair Play Award. Canada’s Anna Karpenko won the Golden Glove as the Best Goalkeeper.
-U.S. UNDER-20 WOMEN’S YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Under-20 Women’s Youth National Team vs. Mexico
Date: March 12, 2022
Competition: Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship - Final
Venue: Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Kickoff: 4:40 p.m. local (3:40 p.m. ET)
Weather: 82 degrees, mostly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
MEX 0 0 0
USA – Michelle Cooper 3rd minute
USA – Talia DellaPeruta (Penalty Kick) 43
USA: 12-Neeku Purcell; 2-Laney Rouse, 4-Emily Mason, 5-Lilly Reale, 13-Samar Guidry; 20-Talia DellaPeruta, 8-Olivia Moultrie (6-Emily Colton, 62), 10-Alexis Missimo (14-Lauren Flynn, 78); 11-Alyssa Thompson, 9-Michelle Cooper (Capt.), 7-Simone Jackson (18-Trinity Byars, 62)
Substitutes not used: 1-Mia Justus, 3-Ayo Oke, 15-Aidan McConnell, 16-Avery Patterson
Head coach: Tracey Kevins
MEX: 1-Celeste Espino; 2-Daniela Monroy, 4-Jana Gutierrez, 15-Kinberly Guzman, 13-Samantha Lopez, 5-Alexxandra Ramirez; 6-Daniela Delgado, 10-Annette Vazquez (Capt.) (17-Martiza Maldonado, 46), 7-Aylin Avilez; 11-Natalia Mauleon, 9-Alexia Villanueva (19-Tatiana Flores, 80)
Substitutes not used: 3-Carol Cazares, 8-Silvana Flores, 12-Paola Manrique (Pachuca), 14-Emili Bautista, 16-Paola Chavero, 18-Isabella Gutierrez, 20-Amanda Marroquin
Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 12 / 10
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 13 / 17
Offside: 1 / 2
USA – Alyssa Thompson (Caution) 66th minute
USA – Talia DellaPeruta (Caution) 81
Referee: Marianela Araya (CRC)
1st Assistant Referee: Mijensa Rensch (CUB)
2nd Assistant Referee: Ivett Santiago (CUB)
4th Official: Odette Hamilton (JAM)
VAR: Tatiana Guzman (NCA)
AVAR1: Chantal Boudreau (CAN)
AVAR2: Benjamin Whitty (CAY)