he U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team will face Ghana, China PR and Germany in Group D at the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, taking place at five venues in Japan from Aug. 19-Sept. 8. The Final Draw took place in Tokyo on Monday evening (early morning Eastern Time).
The U.S. plays its first two Group D matches at the Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium in Hiroshima, opening its tournament on Aug. 20 against Ghana at 4 p.m. local (3 a.m. ET) before facing China PR on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. local (6 a.m. ET). The USA will finish group play on Aug. 27 against Germany in what will be an extremely rare meeting during group play between former U-20 world champions. The clash between the countries, which have both won this tournament twice, takes place at Miyagi Stadium in the town of Rifu near Sendai at 4 p.m. local (3 a.m. ET).
"We are excited about the other teams in our group and certainly the challenges our team faces as we prepare for each of these games," said U.S. U-20 Women's National Team head coach Steve Swanson. "We have played both Germany and China this year and have a great deal of respect for, not only how these teams compete but also how they play the game. Both of these teams are excellent technically and tactically and have some outstanding individual talent that play well together. We do not know much about Ghana at this time, but obviously having made their way through African qualifying they must be a quality side.
"Without a doubt, this group will provide some entertaining, competitive, high quality soccer matches in the World Cup. We are proud to represent CONCACAF in this tournament and look forward to continuing our preparations now that we know who we are playing in the group phase."
The USA's opening match will be a reprise of the first group game of the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, when the Americans drew 1-1 with Ghana on a goal from Sydney Leroux. The USA previously met China in the final game of group play at the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, a 2-0 loss that was the only setback in that competition for the Americans, who would go on to win the tournament.
The meeting with Germany will be the first in group play for any U.S. women's team in any FIFA tournament as the Germans did not earn a seed. Host Japan, Korea DPR, the USA and Brazil were seeded into the first pot for the draw.
The USA and Germany, the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup champion in 2004 and in 2010 when it hosted, have met in four of the five U-20/U-19 Women's World Cups that have been contested, but always in a knockout round game. The USA-Germany history in this tournament features three semifinal meetings (two won by the USA and one by Germany) and one quarterfinal match (won by the USA in 2006).
The revealing of the tournament's Final Draw corresponds well with the upcoming U.S. trip to Japan to face the hosts in two exhibition matches that will serve as excellent Women's World Cup preparation for both countries. Japan, which has been strong at FIFA youth women's tournaments in recent years, has put together another talented squad for this age group.
The USA will depart for Japan on June 10 and Swanson will take 21 players for the two friendly matches, matching the roster size he will bring to the Women's World Cup this fall. The U.S. team will be based in Osaka and will face Japan on June 17 at the Nagai Stadium and on June 20 at the J-Green Sakai National Training Center.
U.S. U-20 WNT Japan Tour Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Bryane Heaberlin (North Carolina; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Jami Kranich (Villanova; Hamden, Conn.), Abby Smith (Dallas Texans; Dallas, Texas)
DEFENDERS (6): Stephanie Amack (Mustang Blast; Pleasanton, Calif.), Olivia Brannon (Virginia; Troy, Mich.), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina; Rockville Centre, N.Y.) Kassey Kallman (Florida State; Woodbury, Minn.), Mollie Pathman (Duke; Durham, N.C.), Cari Roccaro (Albertson Fury; East Islip, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Virginia; St. Simons Island, Ga.), Vanessa DiBernardo (Illinois; Naperville, Ill.), Julie Johnston (Santa Clara; Mesa, Ariz.), Sarah Killion (UCLA; Fort Wayne, Ind.), Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Ashley Meier (Cleveland Whitecaps; Strongsville, Ohio), Samantha Mewis (UCLA; Hanson, Mass.)
FORWARDS (5): Maya Hayes (Penn State; West Orange, N.J.), Lindsey Horan (Colorado Rush; Golden, Colo.), Kealia Ohai (North Carolina; Draper, Utah), Katie Stengel (Wake Forest; Melbourne, Fla.), Chioma Ubogagu (Stanford; Coppell, Texas)
Japan, which was placed into Group A, drew Mexico, New Zealand and Switzerland into its group. Group B features Brazil, Italy, Nigeria and the Korea Republic. Korea DPR, which was placed into Group C, drew Norway, Argentina and Canada.
The FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup will feature 16 teams, with the top two finishers in each group advancing to the quarterfinals. Should the U.S. advance to the second round by winning the group, it would meet a second-place team from Group C. If the USA finishes second in the group, it would face the first-place team from Group C.
For a complete tournament schedule, fans can visit ussoccer.com.
2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup
Group A (Miyagi, Tokyo, Kobe):
Group B (Saitama, Tokyo, Kobe):
Group C (Kobe, Saitama, Miyagi):
Group D (Hiroshima, Saitama, Miyagi):
U.S. 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Schedule
Date Opponent Time Venue
Aug. 20 Ghana 4 p.m. local / 3 a.m. ET Big Arch Stadium; Hiroshima, Japan
Aug. 23 China PR 7 p.m. local / 6 a.m. ET Big Arch Stadium; Hiroshima, Japan
Aug. 27 Germany 4 p.m. local / 3 a.m. ET Miyagi Stadium; Rifu, Japan