U20 WNT shows possible WC qualifying team

U20 WNT shows possible WC qualifying team
January 19, 2012

CHULA VISTA, California – Could they have been more hospitable? Sure, but they are preparing for a World Cup.

The U.S. U20 Women’s National Team sent the Shanghai Women’s Football Club of China home with another pair of defeats on Wednesday as the squad wrapped up its two-week camp at the Olympic Training Center. 

The Americans spent one match formulating, and the next dominating in 1-0 and 3-0 victories that provided a glimpse into which standouts are likely making the U20 World Cup Qualifying roster for March (stay tuned, we’ll touch on this in more depth on Friday).

“We mixed some things around (as far as the lineups) as we were trying to give everyone a chance to be evaluated,” said U.S. U20 coach Steve Swanson. “At the same time, when we play in Spain (in February) we won’t have subs so we have to try to get players 90-minute fit. So we took all those things into consideration.”

stanford women's college soccer player chioma ubogaguChioma Ubogagu
Shanghai was competitive in the opening match, which was more like an off-speed pitch to the fastball the U.S. squad delivered in the capper. 

While the Chinese packed in their defense, determined not to lose individual battles, the U.S. side didn’t apply all that much pressure which generally made for a deliberate match. 

There were a few exceptions, though. Chioma Ubogagu pushed the pace whenever possible, and put together two strong halves as she created chances and nearly scored on a few occasions.

She was joined in the attack by Stephanie McCaffrey, Maya Hayes, Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, Vanessa DiBernando, and Mandy Laddish.   

In the first half, Ubogagu and equally speedy Hayes both played on the outside but the team was never able to take advantage, and most decent chances came from individual efforts instead of combinations. 

Goalkeeper Abby Smith made a couple of shutout-preserving plays to keep things level. Just before half she came off her line to cut off a through ball in the box, smashing into an oncoming forward. Later in the match, a botched clear went right to a Chinese player who quickly sent a shot over the top of Smith. But she scrambled back to recover and laid out to knock away a sure goal.

Smith was backed up in the defense by Abby Dahlkemper, Jaelene Hinkle, Casey Morrison and Kori Chapic, who was strong.

Micaela Cappelle and Laddish showed some good activity in the second half and Shanghai showed a knack for challenging in dangerous defensive situations. 

McCaffrey helped the U.S. break through late on a counter attack. She got behind the defense and broke down the line in a 2v1 scenario that she finished far post.

The goal helped the U.S. end the match with a positive result and set the table for the next group.

2nd Match brings more goals
Not that the second unit needed much of a push, they took the field like they’d been waiting three days to see action.

With heavy pressure and clinical ball movement from the start, it was clear that the Americans were determined to overwhelm Shanghai.

Offensive studs Lindsey Horan and Katie Stengel set the tone. They were joined by Kealia Ohai, Morgan Brian, Sarah Killion, Julie Johnston and defenders Crystal Dunn, Mollie Pathman, Cari Roccaro and Kassey Kallman. 

The group played at a dizzying early pace and there was a lot to be happy with as they played cohesively.

Killion and Johnston are two that were particularly impressive. Both won their battles in the middle of the field, with Killion sliding forward and making good reads. Johnston is a physical presence who always holds her ground.

Brian netted the first score in the first-half where Shanghai’s goalkeeper made an ill-advised punch at the ball that the Virginia standout directed into the back of the net.

The U20s set up a host of corner kicks in the second half and converted two for goals.

Johnston finished up a scrum in front of the goal to make it 2-0 and Horan headed in a corner on a perfect service from Pathman. 

Maybe most significant in both U.S. victories was the number of goals allowed: zero.

“The things we emphasized during the camp really showed up today, especially defensively,” Swanson said. “I thought our ball movement in this game was light years better than in the first one (Sunday). There is urgency to get better quickly because we have qualifying coming up soon, but we are pleased with where we are right now.”
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