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USA Defeats Paraguay 6-0 in Second Group C Match at 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup

CONCARNEAU, France (Aug. 9, 2018) – Needing a convincing result to keep alive its chances of advancing to the quarterfinals, the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team put together an emphatic 6-0 victory against Paraguay in its second game at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Midfielder Savannah DeMelo scored a hat trick, while forward Sophia Smith ran roughshod over Paraguay, bagging a brace and an assist. Forward Ashley Sanchez also added a strike.

The USA will finish Group C play against Spain on Monday, Aug. 13 (7:30 a.m. ET) at Clos Gastel Stadium in Dinan-Léhon and needs a win to ensure advancement to the knockout stage. The top two teams in each of the four groups qualify for the quarterfinals. 

With today’s six-goal victory, the USA currently sits in second place in Group C behind Spain, which defeated Japan, 1-0, earlier in the day. If the USA beats Spain, the teams will be tied with six points each, but Spain will be behind the USA on the first tie-breaker – goal difference – ensuring advancement for the Americans in either first or second place in the group, depending on the result of the Japan-Paraguay match that will be played simultaneously.

The USA would also advance with a Japan loss or tie vs. Paraguay, or even a loss to Spain, as long as Japan also loses, and the USA maintains its goal difference advantage over Japan.

A physical Paraguay side gave the U.S. some resistance in the opening minutes, but the USA dominated the match, creating scoring chances early and never letting up on the way to a piling up a 27-7 shot margin. Paraguay had just one shot on goal, to the USA’s 14, and that came in the waning moments. The Americans had numerous close-range chances in the second half, which just missed the frame, that could have made the score line even greater.

After a series of dangerous chances, the USA finally broke through in the 15th minute on a spectacular dribbling run and finish from Smith.

The USA broke the game open with two goals in the final few minutes of the first half and one in the first minute of the second. After DeMelo made it 2-0 in the 39th minute by finishing a rebound of Smith’s shot, the game really opened up for the USA attack. While Paraguay put together a few spells of possession throughout the game, it was no longer a matter of if the Americans would get the three points, but how many goals they could score.

The goal that made it 3-0 on the cusp of halftime was a dagger for Paraguay as Erin Gilroy skillfully glided by a defender on the left end line before setting up DeMelo for her second.

The USA came out firing once again after halftime and Sanchez scored her first goal of the tournament to make it 4-0. Smith made it 5-0 on a breakaway in the 53rd and DeMelo completed her hat trick after a lightning counter attack in the 78th.

Additional Notes:

  • The three goals for DeMelo marked her first hat trick for the U-20 WNT, and first multi-goal game, while upping her international goals total to eight in her team-leading 38 caps.
  • DeMelo’s hat trick was the fourth for a U.S. player in the history of this tournament. Maya Hayes scored three times against Ghana in 2014, Sydney Leroux bagged her three goals against Switzerland in 2010, and Kelly Wilson earned her hat trick against Denmark in 2002.
  • The two goals for Smith upped her team-leading total to 23 scores in 27 U-20 caps and puts her within one goal of tying Kelley O’Hara and Lindsey Horan for second on the USA’s all-time U-20 WNT scoring list. Sydney Leroux is the USA’s all-time goals leader at this age level with 29.
  • For Sanchez, it was her 12th international goal in 27 U-20 caps, and her third in the U-20 Women’s World Cup after scoring twice two years ago at the 2016 FIFA U-20 WWC in Papua New Guinea.
  • Paraguay and the USA met in the opening game of the group stage at the 2016 Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan, a 6-1 U.S. victory. Ten players from both rosters were on the squads that met in that game.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Sophia Smith (Viviana Villacorto), 15th minute: A remarkable run from Smith produced the USA’s first goal at the World Cup. She latched onto the ball just over the midfield line on the right side of the field, dashed past four Paraguayans while running into the middle and played a give-and-go with Villacorta to evade another onrushing defender. Villacorta quickly passed it back and Smith about five yards outside the penalty box on the left side. Smith pulled off another dynamic dribble to push the ball past a sliding defender and then drove into the box where she evaded her sixth defender of the movement and made just enough space to blast her left-footed shot just inches inside the near post from a tight angle. USA 1, PAR 0

USA – Savannah DeMelo, 39th minute: Smith also sparked the USA’s second goal of the day. Erin Gilroy played it to her on the left wing where she outran Lorena Alonso and glided into the penalty area. Smith fired low and on frame, but goalkeeper Isabel Ortiz could only knock it down. An onrushing DeMelo was on the spot to poke home the rebound from six yards out to double the USA’s advantage. USA 2, PAR 0

USA – Savannah DeMelo (Erin Gilroy), 44th minute: The USA kept up its attacking pressure, and DeMelo got her second just five minutes after her first. Erin Gilroy received the ball off of a throw-in on the left flank and made a nice run down the end line, lifting the ball over the foot of a defender before racing towards the net post. She then cut a pass perfectly back to DeMelo who spun her left-footed shot into the lower right corner from just outside the left corner of the six-yard box. USA 3, PAR 0

USA – Ashley Sanchez (Sophia Smith), 46th minute: The U-20s wasted no time upping the lead, striking less than a minute into the second half. On yet another dangerous run, this time down the right wing, Smith drove the ball to the end line and played a pass on the ground back to Sanchez who finished first-time on the bounce from 10 yards out into the lower left corner. USA 4, PAR 0

USA – Sophia Smith (Vivianna Villacorta), 63rd minute: After the USA won the ball from Paraguay in its attacking half, Villacorta spied Smith making a cutting run between the Paraguayan center backs and played a perfect ball upfield that found her in stride. The Paraguayan ‘keeper came out to challenge the one-on-one chance, but Smith easily rolled her shot into the lower right corner from 20 years out for her second of the night. USA 5, PAR 0

USA – Savannah DeMelo (Abigail Kim), 78th minute: The USA got its sixth with some fantastic transition play when substitute Penelope Hocking sent Kim down the right wing with a nice pass. Kim raced behind the defense and rolled the ball on the ground to the far post where the crashing DeMelo slid to blast her shot into the net and complete the historic hat trick. USA 4, PAR 0 FINAL

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U-20 WNT Aug 9, 2018

- U.S. U-20 Women's National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team vs. Paraguay
Date: August 9, 2018
Competition: 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup - Group C
Venue: Stade Guy-Piriou; Concarneau, France
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. local time)
Attendance: 2,170
Weather: 67 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary:            1             2             F
USA                                     3             3             6
PAR                                     0             0             0

USA – Sophia Smith (Viviana Villacorta)                        15th minute
USA – Savannah DeMelo                                               39
USA – Savannah DeMelo (Erin Gilroy)                         44
USA – Ashley Sanchez (Sophia Smith)                          46
USA – Sophia Smith (Viviana Villacorta)                   63
USA – Savannah DeMelo (Abigail Kim)                         78

USA: 1-Laurel Ivory; 13-Kiara Pickett, 16-Samantha Hiatt (capt.), 4-Naomi Girma, 3-Tara McKeown; 11-Viviana Villacorta, 18-Jaelin Howell, 10-Savannah DeMelo; 19-Erin Gilroy (8-Brianna Pinto, 61), 9-Sophia Smith (6-Penelope Hocking, 73), 2-Ashley Sanchez (17-Abigail Kim, 61)
Subs not used: 12-Amanda McGlynn, 21-Angelina Anderson, 5-Zoe Morse, 7-Alexa Spaanstra, 14-Isabel Rodriguez, 15-Taryn Torres, 20-Emily Fox
Head coach: Jitka Klimkova

PAR: 12-Isabel Ortiz; 2-Maria Vecca, 5-Limpia Fretes, 14-Natalia Villasanti, 3-Lorena Alonso; 8-Fanny Godoy (6-Camila González, 31), 17-Dahiana Bogarín, 7-Rosa Miño (19-Celeste Aguilera, 50); 10-Jessica Martínez, 9-Fabiola Sandoval, 16-Jessica Sánchez (11-Lice Chamorro, 62)
Subs not used: 1-Heidi Salas, 21-Jessica Franco, 4-Deisy Ojeda, 18-Daysy Bareiro, 20-Ruth Sosa, 15-Graciela Martinez, 13-Bianka Avila
Head coach: Epifania Benitez

Stats Summary: USA / PAR
Shots: 27 / 7
Shots on Goal: 14 / 1
Saves: 1 / 7
Corner Kicks: 5 / 3
Fouls: 14 / 9
Offside: 2 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Jaelin Howell (caution)                                 8th minute
USA – Naomi Girma (caution)                                 23
PARCeleste Aguilera (caution)                            65

Referee: Liang Qin (CHN)
Assistant Referee 1: Yongmei Cui (CHN)
Assistant Referee 2: Yan Fang (CHN)
4th Official: Bibiana Steinhaus (GER)

ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Viviana Villacorta
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USA Defeats Paraguay 6-0 in Second Group C Match at 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup

CONCARNEAU, France (Aug. 9, 2018) – Needing a convincing result to keep alive its chances of advancing to the quarterfinals, the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team put together an emphatic 6-0 victory against Paraguay in its second game at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Midfielder Savannah DeMelo scored a hat trick, while forward Sophia Smith ran roughshod over Paraguay, Read more
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From Jordan to France, U-20 WNT Top Scorer Sophia Smith Has Grown in Talent and Confidence

Sophia Smith arrived as a late addition to her first-ever U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team training camp. She had turned heads when she scored five goals in three international games with the U-18 WNT in England and flew directly to Spain to join the U-20s for the annual La Manga tournament in March of 2017.

She’s been a mainstay for the team ever since. The youngest player on the roster in Spain, Smith continued to impress with four goals against older competition.

Since then, Smith has shown an exceptional ability to find the back of the net for the U-20s. She enters the cycle’s culminating event, the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, as the team’s far-and-away leading scorer and riding a record-breaking scoring streak of nine straight international matches. But in the 17 months since that first call-up, her presence has grown tremendously beyond just scoring goals.

“I went in with no fear at that first camp. I didn’t really have anything to lose, so I thought I might as well work hard and show them what I could do,” Smith said. “It kind of took off from there. I’ve just grown every single camp. All the opportunities that this team has provided have made me become a completely different player. I’m more mature, both on and off the field. I owe a lot to this team and this journey.”

Smith entered her first U-20 camp fresh off of the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan, where she played sparingly , logging 80 minutes off the bench.

She’s come a long way since then, and while she’s still one of the team’s youngest players, and one of just two 17-year-olds on the roster, Smith has logged the third-most minutes this year for the U-20s.

“Age is only a number,” Smith said. “I’ve always played up. I’m one of the youngest on this team, but I don’t feel like it. I think one of my strengths is leading by example and working hard for my teammates. That’s how I’ve gotten my foot in the leadership door.”

As she has grown into a starring role for the USA, so has her confidence. She acknowledges earlier in the cycle that she would have been too timid to let her voice be heard in the locker room. Now, head coach Jitka Klimkova has seen Smith pick her spots to speak and has been impressed by the young forward’s development.

“She hits the target when she scores goals and that’s also how she talks. She doesn’t talk much, but when she does, it’s really on-point,” Klimkova said. “It’s not about being the one to talk all the time, it’s about the quality of the message. When she says something, it’s really spot-on.”

At the U-20s’ final international tournament before the World Cup, June’s Tournoi Maurice Revello Sud Ladies Cup in France, Smith went into the locker room unimpressed with her team’s first half effort in the final game. After the U-20s put up 10 goals in a shutout win over perennial power Germany and a strong victory over regional rival Haiti, they stood in position to clinch the tournament with a win against France. But the team had come out flat in a scoreless first half. She let everyone know that the effort wasn’t good enough.

“I knew someone needed to speak up because no one was doing it,” Smith said. “We were all tired. It had been a long camp. I think everyone was just not really feeling it. I was like guys, ‘we could win this whole tournament in these last 45 minutes. Let’s go win this game.’ That was an important part of my career, knowing that I can influence players, even if I’m the youngest. I pick my chances to speak up. When I do, I think it’s in the right moments.”

After the break, Smith netted the game’s opening goal in the 59th minute. When France equalized in the 65th, Smith set-up Erin Gilroy for the game-winner just four minutes later. The USA went on to win 3-1 to clinch the tournament title.

Smith scored four goals at the Sud Ladies Cup, the midway point of the nine-game scoring streak that dates back to early March. The run is a Youth National Team program record, and ties Michelle Akers’ streak at the senior level in 1991.

The onslaught of goals correlates to the team’s extended time together in 2018. While the college season limited the U-20 WNT’s time together in 2017, the team has gathered for training camps and international matches every month this year. The increased programming has paid dividends for the team’s chemistry and connectivity and has reflected in the results this year. The team has lost just once in 2018 heading into the World Cup

Klimkova has seen the team’s level reach new heights since January’s World Cup qualifying in Trindad and Tobago, a rising tide that has lifted everyone’s performance, especially Smith.

“In qualifiers, she really wanted to do it by herself. Now, she’s realized it’s not about her, it’s about the team,” Klimkova said. “She’s combining with the team and the team is combining with her. She needs the people around her. The people around her trust her the same way she trusts the people around her. That’s the synergy and that trust has helped her success scoring goals.”

Current senior WNT midfielder Lindsey Horan visited the U-20s’ final training camp before the World Cup, an 18-day gathering in early July in Portland, Ore. Horan represented the USA at the 2014 U-20 WWC, and like Smith, comes from Colorado. In Portland, she offered advice that has stuck with the young forward.

“She said, ‘You don’t have to be special in every moment, you just need to find your moments to be special,’” Smith said. “She couldn’t have said it better. I think that’s something that I’ve really gotten better with. In Trinidad, I definitely put a lot on myself. I felt like every time I got the ball, I needed to do this or that. Every time I played, I needed to show everyone who I was.
“I’ve slowly learned and I’m still learning, all you can do is be your best and do what you can to help the team.”

The stage is set in France for Smith to find her special moments. Following 17 months of preparation, the 17-year-old is ready to step into the spotlight.

"It almost feels unreal because we’ve been preparing for so long,” Smith said. “Words don’t really describe how excited I am. I have so much confidence in this team, and I really do believe that we could win this whole thing. I think it’s just a matter of maintaining the nerves, approaching them in the right way so that when we get to game time, we’re ready.”

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