2012 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship: Knock-Out Stage Preview

On Friday, the four remaining teams in the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship will face off in a semifinal doubleheader: First, the USA will take on Mexico in the first semifinal, while Canada will play the hosts, Panama, in the second match. The winners of these semifinals will qualify for the 2012 Women’s Under-20 World Cup in Japan. The two losing teams will still have a chance to qualify, as three spots are available, and will play each other in the third-place match on Sunday. The two semifinal winners will play each other in the Championship final, also on Sunday, with only pride and the avoidance of injuries at stake.

The USA has faced Mexico twice in the semifinals at this level: in 2004, when this was a U-19 tournament, and in 2006, the first year the championship was a U-20 event. Both times, the USA defeated Mexico: by 6-0 in 2004 and by 3-0 in 2006. The USA is also undefeated in the two other previous semifinals, with 4-0 and 2-1 wins over Costa Rica in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

Canada has only lost once in the semifinals at past editions of this Championship. The only loss came at the most recent tournament, in Guatemala, when Canada lost to Mexico in extra time. Canada went on to lose in the third-place/repechage match to Costa Rica, and thus failed to qualify for the 2010 Under-20 Women’s World Cup.

Conversely, Mexico has only won one semifinal, the above-mentioned win against Canada. However, it qualified for the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in 2006 and 2008 by winning the third-place/repechage matches versus Jamaica and Costa Rica (via penalty spot kicks), respectively.

For a more in-depth preview of the USA-Mexico match, including recaps of past knock-out stage encounters, please check out this separate article.

This is Panama’s first time in the semifinals of a CONCACAF Championship at any level on the women’s side. They will be looking to upset one of the North American teams, either by beating Canada in a semifinal or by beating the loser of the USA-Mexico semifinal match in the third-place/repechage match. As the USA defeated Panama by a 6-0 scoreline, I doubt that Panama will want to face the USA again.

Against the USA, Panama rested a few key players, including their biggest scoring threat, Angela Evan. And, by “biggest,” I also mean that physically. She is one of Panama’s tallest and strongest players and could have given the USA some trouble, especially in the early goings of the USA-Panama group stage match.

Canada should not take Panama lightly, especially since Canada has had its own problems, most notably its inability to score in the first-half against Haiti and Jamaica. Canada was also unable to put away the match versus Mexico, although Santiago’s excellent goalkeeping was a major contributing factor to that. Also, should Canada lose their semifinal, they will face a much tougher opponent: the loser of the USA-Mexico match.

Questions for the Canada-Panama match: Who will start in goal for Panama? The veteran Montenegro who started against the USA? Or, future Naval Academy Midshipman Dayton Wetherby, who started Panama’s first two matches? Will Pietrangelo, who has been quiet offensively, start up top for Canada? And/or will super-sub Charron-Delage start in midfield? And, how will Canada respond to the crowd and the noise at Estadio Rommel Fernandez?

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Friday’s semifinals begin at 5:00 p.m. eastern time, with the USA taking on Mexico. Canada-Panama should follow starting at 8:00 p.m., absent any delays. The matches  will be streamed live online on the CONCACAF TV website.

Also, the Third-Place Match and the Final are on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m eastern, respectively. The hour difference is due to USA’s Daylight Savings Time which go into effect Sunday morning.

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Summary of Previous CONCACAF Women’s U-20/U-19 Championships,
Knock-Out Stages

2010: Guatemala
Semifinals: USA 2, Costa Rica 1. Mexico 1, Canada 0 (a.e.t.).
Third Place: Costa Rica 1, Canada 0.
Final: USA 1, Mexico 0.

2008: Mexico
Semifinals: USA 4, Costa Rica 0. Canada 2, Mexico 1.
Third Place: Mexico 2, Costa Rica 2 (Mexico wins on penalty spot kicks, 3-2).
Final: Canada 1, USA 0.

2006: Mexico
Semifinals: USA 3, Mexico 0. Canada 2, Jamaica 1.
Third Place: Mexico 4, Jamaica 1.
Final: USA 3, Canada 2.

2004: Canada
Semifinals: USA 6, Mexico 0. Canada 4, Costa Rica 0.
Third Place: Costa Rica 4, Mexico 3. (Consolation only).
Final: Canada 2, USA 1 (a.e.t.).

2002: Trinidad & Tobago
No knock-out round (group stage only).