U-20 WWC: Quick Thoughts on the USA’s 4:0 Win Over Ghana

The United States Under-20 Women’s National Team got off to a good start on Monday, with a 4:0 defeat of Ghana in the team’s opening match of group play, via an own goal on a corner kick and a Maya Hayes hat trick. The 3 points and +4 goal differential provides a solid foundation as the team looks to advance out of a tough Group D that also includes tournament favorite Germany.

See Also:
FIFA.com match page (highlights should be available Monday morning)
U.S. Soccer match report

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USA’s Starting Line-Up:

Heaberlin (GK)
Dunn (RB) — Johnston (CB) — Kallman (CB) — Pathman (LB)
DiBernardo (AM) — Killion (HM) — Brian (AM)
Ohai (FW) — Hayes (FW) — Ubogagu (FW)

Substitutions:
61′ – Katie Stengel in for Chioma Ubogagu.
72′ – Samantha Mewis in for Sarah Killion.
81′ – Mandy Laddish in for Morgan Brian.

Goals:

  • 20′ – USA – Linda Addai {own goal} – Off a corner kick, Morgan Brian heads the ball onto the under side of the crossbar, the ball drops into a scrum in the six yard box. Addai gets an unfortunate touch.
  • 50′ – USA – Maya Hayes (Kealia Ohai) – Crystal Dunn intercepts a poor Ghana pass, and the quick counter is on. Dunn slots a pass out wide to Ohai, who races down the flanks and crosses a head-height pass to Hayes who crisply heads in a shot.
  • 74′ – USA – Maya Hayes (Samantha Mewis) – Off a deep Kealia Ohai throw-in, Mollie Pathman lobs a ball from near the goal line into the left center of the box. Mewis directs a pass which goes past Katie Stengel and right to an open Hayes, who somewhat awkwardly volleys in a side-footed shot.
  • 90+2′ – USA – Maya Hayes (Samantha Mewis) – Mewis intercepts a bad Ghana throw-in and slots up a pass to Hayes, who runs free on goal, then lowly chips a shot over Ghana’s sliding goalkeeper, Patricia Mantey.

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THOUGHTS

IT COULD HAVE BEEN A VERY DIFFERENT MATCH — If Julie Johnston’s 6th minute tackle to deny Florence Dadson an attempted shot had been called a foul, which would have led to a penalty kick and possibly a sending off for Johnston. While Johnston is going shoulder-to-shoulder with Dadson, Johnston does grab a bit of Dadson’s shoulder about 10-15 yards outside the box, Then, in the box, Johnston slides in for a tackle, but makes contact with Dadson’s legs first, and then only on a second effort gets a foot on the ball. (Sequence starts at the 5:25 mark of the on-screen match clock.) – Don’t have time to do a proper analysis of this play, so other thoughts, as always, are more than welcome.

“STARKER START!” — A “strong start!” for the USA according to the official @DFB_Frauen Twitter account. In terms of the scoreline, yes, but the USA got off to a shaky start where they were unable to possess the ball, allowing Ghana to have the better run of play early on. Nerves and jitters are probably partially to blame, especially considering the match between the two squads in the last U-20 WWC. But, the USA, with some luck, was able to carve out a win for 3 points and a +4 goal differential.

GHANA HAS QUALITY, JUST NOT IN FINISHING — Credit should be given to Ghana for their defensive pressuring and passing, but Ghana’s inability to threaten Bryane Heaberlin in goal was the difference in the match: Both the USA and Ghana had the same number of shots, with 13, but 7 of the USA’s shots were on goal (with an 8th off the crossbar), while Ghana only had 3, none of which really troubled Heaberlin.

PLENTY OF THINGS TO IMPROVE ON — For the USA, the defense was less than solid at times, including a brief spell where the USA was unable to clear the ball deep in its third. Also,  the susceptibility of the USA’s defense to a counter attack down the middle is a concern, especially against the likes of Germany, Brazil, and Canada. Offensively, the USA will need to improve its possession and build-up, along with shot awareness. On the latter, Chioma Ubogagu had an open goal when Ghana’s goalkeeper, Patricia Mantey was way off her line, but Ubogagu was slow to take a shot, or pass to an open teammate. – In other words, there is room for legitimate concerns regarding how far this team can go. But, again, this is only the opening match.