Suddenly the U.S. U-17 women’s national team’s inability to get out of Group B at this year’s World Cup looks a little less ugly — not that it was all that ugly to begin with.
The U.S. went unbeaten (2-0-1, 5 pts.) in group play but failed to advance due to an inferior goal differential. France and North Korea went through to the knockout stage by the tiebreaker of beating up on Gambia with harsher scorelines.
Now, North Korea and France will meet in the final in Baku, Azerbaijan on Saturday. So while the U.S. not advancing is most certainly an issue, this further confirms the Group of Death-esk nature of Group B.
The U-17s seem to be victims of hard luck these last two World Cup cycles. There was this year’s tough group which followed a failure to even qualify for the 2010 U-17 Women’s World Cup. That group of young ladies outscored opponents 32-0 in three group matches, but then failed to score against Canada in the semifinal, drew 0-0 and lost on penalty kicks.
Normally that would still get you through to the World Cup (like this year), since CONCACAF usually has three slots. But in 2010, Trinidad & Tobago hosted the World Cup and earned an automatic bid, leaving only two CONCACAF berths. So third place in CONCACAF– where the U.S. finished — wasn’t good enough to make the finals.
Unfortunately for the U.S., sometimes things just shake out that way. It’s important to note that things like this do indeed happen even to the best of teams, and may one day happen at the senior level (I’d say that’s a long way away, despite the USWNT’s struggles to qualify for the 2011 World Cup).
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