The United States’ struggles at the U-17 level continued on Saturday with a 3-2 loss to Japan, eliminating the Americans from the U-17 Women’s World Cup, a tournament which has historically been bad for the U.S.
Knowing they almost certainly needed a victory to advance, the Americans too the lead in the 33rd minute through a goal from captain Ashley Sanchez.
But Japan equalized eight minutes after halftime through Riko Ueki, and then surged into the lead with two goals over the course of less than 120 seconds to end the U.S.’ hopes. Oto Kanno scored in the 75th minute before a brilliant strike from Hinata Miyazawa in the 77th ended the United States’ hopes of advancing.
Sanchez scored a consolation goal from the penalty spot in stoppage time after drawing the PK, but it wasn’t enough for the U.S., which has never won a U-17 Women’s World Cup.
After losing the inaugural final to North Korea in 2008, the Americans have never since gotten out of the group stage. They failed to qualify for the 2010 and 2014 editions of the tournament and exited after three games at the 2012 tournament after losing a tiebreaker in a slightly bizarre three-way tie with North Korea and France, who met in the final; Les Bleues prevailed. Saturday’s loss marked another group-stage exit for the U.S. and coach B.J. Snow.
“I couldn’t have been more proud of how resilient our players were in the first half and the second half, as you saw from the game, our girls never quit,” Snow said. “When you play Japan, in order to win you have to expend so much energy for 90 minutes. And we’ve done it. We beat them three times in a row before tonight. We know what it feels like, and we know what if feels like to coach against them. It is ridiculously hard. You know you’re going to give up chances against Japan, that is inevitable. Our goalkeeper had a really great game, our defense had a great game, and in the end, you have to tip your hat sometimes. The chances that they get, they put them away. We had a couple that we didn’t put away. That’s how the game goes, you take care of your chances and you need a break sometimes. We didn’t get any breaks today.”
The U.S. was upset by Ghana, 2-1 on Tuesday after opening the tournament with a 6-1 victory over Paraguay.
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