The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team played a talented and physical Ghana team to a 1-1 draw in its Group C finale at the 2016 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
The one point from the tie, combined with France’s 2-0 victory against New Zealand in the other Group C match, earned the USA first place in the group, but not until numerous tiebreakers had been exhausted.
The USA (1-0-2, 5 pts) finished tied with France (1-0-2, 5 pts) on points, goal difference (+2) and goals scored (4), while the teams drew their match, 1-1. After the points earned from the group games, the teams went five tie-breakers deep before it came to “greater number of points obtained in the fair play conduct based on yellow and red cards received in all group matches.”
As the USA did not receive a yellow card during group play, and France received one, issued to Estelle Cascarino in the 48th minute of today’s win against New Zealand, the Americans topped the group. New Zealand (1-2-0, 3 points) finished third and Ghana (0-1-2, 2 points) finished fourth in what was surely the most competitive group of the tournament as all of the three other groups featured dominating results. Group C featured four draws and no wins by more than two goals.
In the quarterfinals, the U.S. will face the second-place finisher from Group D on Friday, Nov. 25, at 1 a.m. ET on FS1 and NBC Universo.
A wind-aided own goal that dipped viciously over U.S. goalkeeper Casey Murphy that hit her and bounced into the net gave Ghana the game’s first goal in the 20th minute. Ghana played the first half with the wind at their backs and when midfielder Abambila Ernestina sent a looping shot on target from more than 40 yards out, it pin-balled between the post and Murphy’s hands before bouncing over the line.
The young Americans came into the match knowing a win or a draw would qualify the team for the quarterfinal stage, and with France leading New Zealand across town, the U.S. was in need of a goal in order to win the group.
The USA’s response to giving up a goal was immediate and world class as Mallory Pugh wasted no time getting the equalizer, scoring two minutes later. She took a nice pass from Katie Cousins that got her behind the defense and then beat several Ghana defenders as she cut inside before firing a low right-footed shot across her body and into the lower left corner to even the score.
Going with the wind in the second half, the U.S. backline did well to limit Ghana’s chances, most of which came from distance, to preserve the draw.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
GHA – Own Goal (Casey Murphy), 20th minute: The U.S. attempted to clear out of its defensive zone, and did, but the ball fell to Abambila Ernestina more than 40 yards from the net. She connected well with the bouncing ball to send a high, arching shot toward the goal. The ball bounced off the post before deflecting off Casey Murphy’s outstretched hands and underneath the crossbar to give Ghana the lead. USA 0, GHA 1
USA – Mallory Pugh (Katie Cousins), 22nd minute: From midfield, Katie Cousins fed Mallory Pugh with a leading pass down the left flank. Pugh received the ball and began a run diagonally toward goal, requiring her to cut through the Ghana defense. Pugh took a sharp turn parallel to goal near the edge of the 18-yard box before firing a low right-footed shot across her body and inside the near post to equalize the score. USA 1, GHA 1
- The USA made all three of its substitutes in the second half as head coach Michelle French brought on midfielder Parker Roberts in the 75th minute, forward Ally Watt in the 81st and defender Natalie Jacobs in the 89th.
- Mallory Pugh scored her second goal of the tournament and 19th in 26 caps for the U-20s with her 22nd minute tally.
- This was the third meeting between the USA and Ghana in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. The U.S. previously played to a 1-1 draw with Ghana in 2010 and defeated the African side 4-0 in 2012.
-U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team vs. Ghana U-20 Women’s National Team
Date: Nov. 21, 2016
Competition: 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup – Group C
Venue: Sir John Guise Stadium; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Kickoff: 1 a.m. ET
Weather: 88 degrees; humid
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
GHA 1 0 1
GHA – Own goal (Casey Murphy) 20th minute
USA – Mallory Pugh 22
USA: 1-Casey Murphy; 5-Madeline Elliston, 6-Taylor Otto, 3-Kaleigh Riehl, 14-Ellie Jean; 16-Emily Fox (11-Ally Watt, 81), 10-Emily Ogle, 20-Katie Cousins; 9-Mallory Pugh (capt.), 18-Ashley Sanchez (19-Natalie Jacobs, 89), 15-Jessie Scarpa (2-Parker Roberts, 75)
Subs Not Used: 4-Sabrina Flores, 7-Savannah DeMelo, 8-Courtney Petersen, 12-Rose Chandler, 13-Marley Canales, 17-Kelcie Hedge, 21-Brooke Heinsohn
Head Coach: Michelle French
GHA: 16-Victoria Agyei; 3-Jane Ayieyam, 4-Adu Agyemang (12-Vinoria Kuzagbe, 46, 20-Fatima Alhassan, 82), 5-Belinda Anane, 7-Ernestina Abambila, 8-Wasila Diwura-Soale, 9-Sandra Owusu-Ansah, 10-Princella Adubea (14-Lily Niber-Lawrence, 68), 13-Samira Abdul-Rahman, 15-Faustina Ampah, 18-Rasheda Abdul-Rahman (capt.)
Subs Not Used: 1-Azume Adams, 2-Vida Opoku, 6-Patience Adjetey, 11-Rita Darko, 17-Veronica Appiah, 19-Sandra Boakye, 21-Rose Baah
Head Coach: Mas-Ud Dramani
Stats Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 8 / 14
Shots on Goal: 2 / 1
Saves: 0 / 1
Corner Kicks: 3 / 1
Fouls: 9 / 17
Offside: 1 / 3
GHA – Adu Agyemang 36th minute
GHA – Ernestina Abambila 67
GHA – Belinda Anane 89
Referee: Sara Persson (SWE)
Asst. Ref: Michelle O’Neill (IRL)
Asst. Ref: Julie Magnusson (SWE)
4th: Riem Hussein (GER)
ussoccer.com Player of the Match: Katie Cousins