USA Wins Group at U17 World Cup

USA Wins Group at U17 World Cup
by Travis Clark
October 17, 2022
Players featured in this article:
MF | Seattle Reign
Jordyn Bugg |  2024
D | San Diego Surf
Ella Emri |  2024
D | San Diego Surf
D | Real Colorado
MF | NC Courage
MF | NC Courage
F | Charlotte SA
D | Angel City FC
F | Michigan Jaguars FC

Heading into the Group A finale at the Under-17 World Cup, the U.S. knew that three points would almost certainly win the group.

Facing a driving rain in Goa, India, the U.S. was able to secure a 4-0 win against Morocco. That, combined with Brazil’s 5-0 win over host side India, allowed the United States to finish atop the group and advance to the quarterfinals.

Two goals from Charlotte Kohler and two more by Samantha Smith secured a first-place finish in Group A and a match against Nigeria in the quarterfinals.

After a nervy opening 20 minutes, the U.S. attack sprung to life. Forward Melina Rebimbas corralled a ball down the right channel from right back Gisele Thompson. After facing up against a pair of Moroccan defenders, she picked out Kohler near the penalty spot with a low cross. The California native’s one-time finish beat Morocco goalkeeper Wissal Titah to make it a 1-0 game.

That clicked the U.S. attack picked up the pace. Suarez nearly set up Rebimbas for a second goal, but her shot was thwarted by a Moroccan defender’s excellent block. Kohler tested the goalkeeper in the 31st minute with a shot from distance after the U.S. press turned the ball over high up the field.

As the first half progressed, the U.S. continued to dominate possession and territory, with Morocco unable to transition quickly and offer much of a threat going forward. Rebimbas tested Titah with a low shot that was turned away. Pressure nearly paid off when Lauren Martinho earned a penalty kick for a handball right before the half, but the Video Assistant Referee nullified it due to an offside call.

With one eye on advancing to the quarterfinals, head coach Natalie Astrain made three subs at the half. The U.S. remained in relative control, though were limited in terms of chances created through the first 20 minutes of the second stanza. Emeri Adames was able to wriggle into space on a couple of occasions, though unable to unlock a stout Morocco defense. A great chance fell to the feel of substitute Ella Sanchez at the top of the box, but she fired well over Titah’s frame.

A second goal finally arrived in the 68th minute. It came from tidy holdup play from Amalia Villarreal, who entered as a substitute, played Adames in behind the Morocco back line. Adames’ cross was bundled in by Samantha Smith, capping off a strong effort for one of the halftime changes.

Kohler made it a 3-0 game with a well-worked move in the 73rd minute. Fantastic interplay from Sanchez and Adames put Villarreal into space. Her cross was turned home by Kohler, giving the midfielder a brace on the day.

Eight minutes later, Smith scored again. Villarreal was once again at the heart of it. A delightfully placed chip from Sanchez played Villarreal into the penalty box. Smith raced past a trio of Moroccan defenders and slid home the game’s fourth goal.

Buoyed by the advantage and padding an already comfortable edge over Brazil on goal difference, the U.S. secured the three points. Up next is a quarterfinal match against Nigeria on October 21.

U.S. Lineup: Valentina Amaral; Gisele Thompson (Samantha Smith), Cameron Roller, Ella Emri, Nicola (Nicki) Fraser); Riley Jackson (Mia Bhuta), Charlotte Kohler, Lauren Martinho (Ella Sanchez); Taylor Suarez (Jordyn Bugg), Melina Rebimbas (Amalia Villarreal), Emeri Adames

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