In the final group match of the 2012 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship, the United States held their southern neighbors, Mexico, scoreless while scoring three goals, all from the feet of Summer Green, who now has nine goals through just three matches. With the win, the USA secured the top spot in their group, which means that they will play the second place team from Group A, Panama, on Thursday in the tournament’s semifinal round.
The winner of that match qualifies for the Under-17 Women’s World Cup and will play in the Championship match on Saturday versus the winner of the other semifinal, which is Canada versus Mexico. The losers of the two semifinals will face off for CONCACAF’s third ticket to the U-17 WWC in a repechage match which will be played prior to the Championship match.
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The United States attempted to get off to a quick start on the opening kick-off when team captain Morgan Andrews and forward Midge Purce combined for a few passes straight down the center of Mexico’s half. Purce tried to slot a through ball to forward Amber Munerlyn, who got her first start of the tournament, but Mexico’s condensed back line was too thick. Unfortunately for Mexico, the ball deflected into the path of Summer Green who took a decent shot, but only found side netting.
For the next fifteen minutes, the USA had the better of possession and shots, but was unable to get on the scoreboard until Andrews delivered a cross to Purce, who was on the right flank. Purce dribbled down the flank and turned into the box. She tried to get past two Mexican defenders, but fell to the ground after a slight collision with one of the defenders. Canadian referee Michelle Pye ruled that one of the defenders had fouled Purce, and thus pointed to the penalty spot.
Summer Green stepped up to take the kick and placed her shot to the right of Mexico’s goalkeeper, Gabriela Paz, who was able to get a hand on the ball, but was too late to stop it.
A few minutes later Munerlyn had a chance to double the USA’s lead, after a punt from ‘keeper Jane Campbell was headed up to Munerlyn by midfielder Sarah Robinson. Munerlyn dribbles into the box and cracks a shot which goes a few feet high over the crossbar, while possibly slipping on Estadio Cemento Progeso’s artificial grass.
In the 25th minute, the skies opened up and rain began to pour down. At first, the precipitation did not affect too much, but in the second half, especially, harder hit passes went too far ahead of their intended targets.
But, the rain did not dampen the goal scoring chances in the first half. Six minutes later, centerback Mandy Freeman, who had time and space, sent a pass up to left fullback Gabbi Miranda who headed the ball up ahead of Green. Green latched onto the ball and easily faked out her defender, opening up a lane toward the goal. From inside the left side of the six yard box, Green slide-kicks a shot to the far post, doubling the USA’s lead.
Several minutes after that, Robinson won a ball in the midfield and sent a pass up to Green, who, with Purce on her right, and Munerlyn on her left, were pressing toward goal, with just Mexico’s back four and its goalkeeper ahead of them. Green dribbled up to the top of the penalty arc and unleashed a hard-hit grounder that bounced into the left corner.
In the second half, the USA continued to press for additional goals, but the rain-slickened turf made things difficult for the two young teams, primarily with ground passes that ran too far, but also with some slipping while trying to turn and cross the ball.
Highlights (US Soccer):
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ROSTER AND FORMATION NOTES
Starting Line-Up: Forward Midge Purce and attacking midfielder Lauren Kaskie, who did not play against Trinidad and Tobago were back in the opening line-up, while Emily Bruder, who started both of the first two matches was rested, with Amber Munerlyn getting her first start and her first minutes of the tournament:
Basinger (RB) — Bauer (CB) — Freeman (CB) — G.Miranda
Robinson (AM) — Kaskie (AM)
Purce (RF) — Green (CF) — Munerlyn (LF)
Fig. 1: The USA’s Starting Line-Up
On the Bench: Joanna Boyles, Toni Payne, Morgan Stanton, Lizzy Raben, Andi Sullivan, Emily Bruder, Cassie Miller.
Which meant that forward Darian Jenkins and fullback Morgan Reid were not rostered.
Substitutions: In the 56th minute, Lauren Kaskie, who had a better outing this time than against the Bahamas, made way for Joanna Boyles. Twelve minutes later (68′), Sarah Robinson left the match due to some kind of minor rib injury, with Toni Payne being her replacement. In the 83rd minute, Morgan Stanton came on for Amber Munerlyn, which moved Payne up to the left forward spot:
Fig 2: The USA’s Final Formation
(Substitutes are in red)
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GOAL SCORING SUMMARY
The USA’s shot attempts were much better than in previous matches, especially in the first half, where most of the shots not on goal did not miss by more than a few feet. Shot quality was generally lower after the third goal was scored. The United States had at least 20 shots in the match. (US Soccer’s match report notes 21 shots, while my count only has 20.)
Fig. 3: Map of Shots and Goals Scored
(Numbers refer to the order in which scored)
1. Summer Green (16′, Penalty Kick): A grounder that was fairly hard hit to the right of the goalkeeper, who was able to get a hand on the ball, which barely altered the shot’s path. — 1:0 USA.
2. Summer Green (31′, Gabbi Miranda): The sequence begins after Sarah Robinson is fouled in the midfield. Morgan Andrews delivers the free kick back to Mandy Freeman who passes ahead to Lauren Kaskie. Kaskie is challenged and has to pass back to Freeman. Bauer, back to Freeman, who has plenty of room and time to pick out Gabbi Miranda. Miranda comes from off the left touch line and deftly heads the ball up ahead of Green, who runs onto the ball and dribbles into the box. Green pauses and spins, getting past her lone defender. Green heads into the six yard box and slides in a shot to the far (right) post. — 2:0 USA.
3. Summer Green (36′, Sarah Robinson): Robinson wins a ball in the and passes straight ahead to Green, who is just left of the center spot. Green dribbled toward goal, with the two Mexican centerbacks tracking back ahead of her. At the top of the box, Green strikes a hard-hit grounder to the left corner, which seemed to take an odd bounce. In any case, Mexico’s ‘keeper had no chance. — 3:0 USA.
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PLAYER PERFORMANCE SUMMARIES
As a whole, the defense was outstanding this match, and the back four looked much better as a unit. Although, Mexico was far less high pressure and physical compared to Trinidad and Tobago.
Jane Campbell (#1, goalkeeper): Campbell only had one major test in this match: A somewhat diagonal cross off a long free kick, which she came off her line and confidently punched away in a scrum of US defenders and Mexican attackers. One of Campbell’s punts almost led to a goal, as it was headed by Robinson up to Munerlyn, who dribbled toward goal, but her shot from inside the box was a few feet high (20th minute).
Maddie Bauer (#5, centerback): Bauer had an overall good match, but one minor error, which could have been costly, sticks out: In the 42nd minute, she ran down a ball unchallenged, rotated and kicked the ball up field, but right to the feet of a Mexican player.
Mandy Freeman (#16, centerback): Freeman defended well and helped to create the second goal.
Brittany Basinger (#3, right fullback): Basinger owned her flank in the match, both offensively, and, especially, defensively. She was everywhere: winning balls, disrupting attacks, and helped to create chances. Her best chance for an assist came when she crossed a ball into the box straight to Munerlyn, but the forward chose to head the ball and the shot was easily grabbed by the goalkeeper.
Gabbi Miranda (#6, left fullback): Miranda faced up against Mexico’s most dangerous player, Taylor Alvarado, but had a much easier time compared to the previous match, where she battled with Trinidad and Tobago’s Liana Hinds.
Morgan Andrews (#10, holding midfielder): Andrews continued to provide quality passing service, but did not take a shot. In the midfield, she was pressured by Mexican defenders, who were sometimes able to dispossess her when she was too slow to distribute the ball.
Sarah Robinson (#17, attacking midfielder): Robinson covered a lot of ground in the midfield, and created chances: She had one assist and almost had another. An area for improvement is reducing the number of fouls called on her. Also, she left the match in the 68th minute clutching her ribs. The extent of this apparent minor injury is not yet known.
Lauren Kaskie (#14, attacking midfielder): Kaskie’s shot decisions were better in this match, although she did have a quite speculative shot in the waning minutes of the first half which was hit right at her defender. Her best shot came in the 5th minute, where after a scrambled outside Mexico’s box, Kaskie got up from the ground, won the ball and dribbled into the penalty arc where she turned and had a decent shot on goal.
Midge Purce (#15, forward): Purce’s dangerous dribbling into the box led to the USA’s penalty kick. When the USA lost possession, she hustled back and defended vigorously. Also, at times, she played deep in the midfield.
Summer Green (#8, forward): Green coolly converted the penalty kick to open the scoring and had two quality goals during the run of the play, so she gets high marks for those. That said, a couple of her shots decisions were not the best. Besides a speculative shot from the right edge of Mexico’s penalty box (44′), in the 83rd minute, Green collected a dangerous cross from Toni Payne, and chose to send in a shot on goal from a tough angle with three defenders plus the goalkeeper in her way. Meanwhile, Joanna Boyles was wide open in the penalty arc. (Sequence starts at 5:10 in the US Soccer highlights video.)
Amber Munerlyn (#4, forward): Munerlyn was active in the attack, and had some decent chances on goal, but also had some frustrating moments: In the 50th minute, she dribbled into the box, but ran out of real estate and crossed the ball toward goal (perhaps trying to get a corner), but out of bounds. If she had stopped the ball near the goal line, she would have had a better chance to at least earn a corner.
Joanna Boyles (#12, attacking midfielder; substitute, 56′): Boyles was involved in the midfield passing and in the attack. She had at least two shot attempts: The first was a hard hit shot from above the penalty arc which wickedly hooked wide left. The second was a rushed attempt when Boyles was wide open at the top of the box and latched onto a rebound.
Toni Payne (#19, attacking midfielder / left forward; substitute 68′): Payne showed excellent ball skills, even on the wet surface, and helped to create one of the best chances of the second half.
Morgan Stanton (#11, attacking midfielder, substitute, 83′): Stanton did not have much to do in her limited minutes on-field.
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ODDS & ENDS
Refereeing (Again): The penalty call was probably the correct call as the defender’s actions could be classified as “careless,” so by the letter of Law 12, the referee could justify the call. That said, I would not have minded a non-call since (1) I doubt that Purce could have gotten to the ball, if she had not been impeded, and (2) this was a rivalry* match with something significant at stake. (*Albeit, a mostly one-sided rivalry.)
Also, worth noting is that defenders in this situation are somewhat at a disadvantage, especially against the more creative, and, thus, less predictable, attackers. So, defenders in the box practically need to give such attackers more room to dance with the ball.
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US Soccer Post-Match Interviews: