The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team fell to Japan 3-2 in its final group game in Jordan at the 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup and was eliminated from the tournament.
After a goal from Ashley Sanchez put the USA up in the 33rd minute, the Americans took a 1-0 lead into halftime and were in position to qualify for the quarterfinals, even after Japan tied the game in the 53rd minute. That all changed around the 68th minute when Ghana scored against Paraguay in the other group match taking place at the same time, meaning the USA needed a goal to win the game and earn the three required points to advance.
Instead, it was Japan that scored twice and the USA is headed home after finishing third in Group D. Japan won the group with nine points from three wins. Ghana finished second with six points from two wins and a loss and the USA was third with three points from an opening game win against Paraguay, followed by losses to Ghana and Japan. Paraguay failed to earn a point. Ghana defeated Paraguay 1-0, meaning the USA would have had to beat Japan to advance.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of how resilient our players were in the first half and the second half, as you saw from the game, our girls never quit,” U.S. U-17 WNT head coach B.J. Snow said following the game. “When you play Japan, in order to win you have to expend so much energy for 90 minutes. And we’ve done it. We beat them three times in a row before tonight. We know what it feels like, and we know what if feels like to coach against them. It is ridiculously hard. You know you’re going to give up chances against Japan, that is inevitable. Our goalkeeper had a really great game, our defense had a great game, and in the end, you have to tip your hat sometimes. The chances that they get, they put them away. We had a couple that we didn’t put away. That’s how the game goes, you take care of your chances and you need a break sometimes. We didn’t get any breaks today.”
Sanchez pulled a goal back in stoppage time for the final score line, converting a penalty kick after she was taken down in the box, but the Americans would have needed two more scores. The USA had two goals called back for offside in the second half.
Japan, as it is apt to do against any team, had most of the possession in the match, but the USA played gritty, smart and organized defense in the first half to keep Japan from creating too much danger. When the Americans gained possession, it looked to counter and put pressure on the Japan back line numerous times in the first half. The USA out-shot Japan 6-3 in the first half, putting three shots on goal to Japan’s zero and got the goal it needed from Sanchez.
“This is something that we’ve all been dreaming of since we were little and it just came to an end tonight,” said U-17 WNT starting goalkeeper Laurel Ivory. “I’m not really thinking about my individual performance tonight because there were so many people on that field that had spectacular performances. There’s a lot of people on that field, not just one, so the team effort is what I’ll focus on.”
Unfortunately for the USA, it couldn’t hold the lead against the reigning champions – who played an excellent second half and eventually out-shot the USA 22-10 for the match. The USA exits after group play for the second time in the three U-17 Women’s World Cup tournaments for which it has qualified.
Goal Scoring Rundown
USA – Ashley Sanchez, 33rd minute: Despite Japan dominating most of the possession the USA got the first goal off a goal kick as Laurel Ivory crushed her service deep into the Japan half of the field. The ball skimmed off the top of a Japanese defender’s head and behind the back line. Sanchez squeezed through two defenders to earn a breakaway and calmly slid the ball just inside the left post from 17 yards out as the goalkeeper attempted to close her down. USA 1, JPN 0
JPN – Riko Ueki, 53rd minute: Japan took a corner kick from the left side and it was headed dangerously on goal. A U.S. defender was able to clear it off the line at the left post, but the ball did not travel far enough and it fell to Ueki, who headed into the roof of the net to tie the game. USA 1, JPN 1
JPN – Oto Kanno (Hinata Miyazawa), 75th minute: Japan got its second goal once a nice combination at the top of the penalty box as 8 slipped in 9 and she had an easy finish to push it past Ivory into the lower left side of the net from eight yards out. USA 1, JPN 2
JPN – Hinata Miyazawa, 77th minute: Japan put a capper on the match off a fantastic finish from distance Miyazawa. She dribbled in from the left side and struck a blast from outside the box the flew into the upper left corner past the flying Ivory. USA 1, JPN 3
USA – Ashley Sanchez (penalty kick), 90+1: Sanchez was brought down in box as she split two defenders and then took the kick herself, slotting the ball into the lower left corner, but it was too little too late for the USA. USA 2, JPN 3. FINAL
- The USA’s two losses in the last two games of group play marked the first and only losses in international competition for this group of players in this cycle.
- The USA had beaten Japan in 2015 (3-1) and 2016 (2-1) at the U.S. Soccer NTC Invitational.
- Sanchez ends her U-17 international career with 21 goals in 21 games.
- This was the first World Cup cap in the international career of Jordan Canniff.
- The USA made all three allowed subs in the game as Frankie Tagliaferri came on for Jordan Canniff in the 63rd minute, Sophie Smith came on for Jaelin Howell in the 70th and Adrienne Richardson came on for Isabel Rodriguez in the 79th.
– U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team vs. Japan U-17 Women’s National Team
Date: Oct. 8, 2016
Competition: 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – Group D
Venue: Amman International Stadium; Amman, Jordan
Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET
Weather: 73 degrees; clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
JPN 0 3 3
USA – Ashley Sanchez 33rd minute
JPN – Riko Ueki 53
JPN – Oto Kanno (Hinata Miyazawa) 75
JPN – Hinata Miyazawa 77
USA – Ashley Sanchez (penalty kick) 90+1
USA : 1-Laurel Ivory; 9-Kiara Pickett, 5-Karina Rodriguez, 4-Naomi Girma, 13-Isabel Rodriguez (19-Adrienne Richardson, 79); 2-Jordan Canniff (20-Frankie Tagliaferri, 63), 18-Jaelin Howell (3-Sophia Smith, 70), 8-Brianna Pinto, 7-Alex Spaanstra; 10-Ashley Sanchez (capt.), 14-Civana Kuhlmann
Subs Not Used: 6-Emily Smith, 11-Kate Wiesner, 12-Meagan McClelland, 15-Kennedy Wesley, 16-Sydney Zandi, 17-Lia Godfrey, 21-Hillary Beall
Head Coach: B.J. Snow
JPN : 1-Momoko Tanaka; 2-Nana Ono, 3-Reina Wakisaka (14-Seira Kojima, 62), 11-Hana Takahashi, 20-Nanami Kitamura; 7-Saori Takarada (15-Remina Chiba, 87), 8-Hinata Miyazawa, 10-Fuka Nagano (capt.), 17-Oto Kanno, 21-Sakura Nojima (13-Mayu Karahashi, 82); 9-Riko Ueki
Subs Not Used: 4-Miyu Takahira, 5-Riko Ushijima, 6-Rio Kanekatsu, 12-Chiaki Kogure, 16-Jun Endo, 18-Mayu Mizuguchi, 19-Miyu Tomita
Head Coach: Naoki Kusunose
Stats Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 10 / 22
Shots on Goal: 7 / 9
Saves: 6 / 5
Corner Kicks: 1 / 8
Fouls: 8 / 11
Offside: 3 / 2