Amanda McGlynn had the game of her life, and Jaelin Howell was in the right place at the right time. It was just enough for the U.S. U20 Women’s National Team to survive a scare from Haiti and qualify for the 2018 U20 World Cup on Friday.
The U.S. defeated Haiti 1-1 (3-0 in penalty kicks) in the semifinal of the 2018 CONCACAF U20 Championship. USA advances to the championship game on Sunday while Haiti has another chance to earn a berth to the World Cup in the third place game. The top three teams from CONCACAF qualify for the World Cup.
USA scored the opening goal in the 76th minute. Jaelin Howell charged onto a ball 30 yard out from goal. She headed the ball past two defenders and drilled a shot at Haiti goalkeeper Kerly Theus. The first shot was blocked, but Howell’s momentum carried her into the path of the rebound and she tucked her shot between the keepers legs for her second goal of the competition.
USA looked like they were on their way to the championship game during the final 10 minutes of the game. Haiti defender Emeline Charles picked up her second yellow card on a late aerial challenge against Brianna Pinto, and Haiti only had 10 players for the final six minutes of the game.
However, Haiti never quit on the game and stole a lifeline right before the final whistle. Haiti was trying to hit a long ball from the right side of the defense, but USA blocked the effort out for a throw-in. Haiti executed a beautiful play off the throw-in to snag the equalizer at the death. The sequence started in front of the USA bench nearly 70 yards from goal. Haiti tossed the ball to striker Nerilia Mondesir who flicked it forward. Sherly Jeudy knocked the ball down for Melchie Dumonay, a 15-year-old who was exceptional on the day. The youngster chipped the ball over the top of the USA defense and into the path of Mondesir who hit the ball with her knee past McGlynn and into the goal.
Per tournament rules, the winner was decided directly following the game via a penalty kick shootout. Haiti looked to have the momentum heading into the kicks from the spot following Mondesir’s emotional last-second equalizer. And that confidence grew when Theus saved Sophia Smith’s first kick of the shootout.
However, Haiti missed all three of their kicks from the spot. Taryn Torres, Zoe Morse, and Howell converted from the spot with Morse hitting the decisive shot. McGlynn made two saves during the shootout.
Prior to the action-packed final 20 minutes, the game was an entertaining affair with action on both goals. Neither side wanted to have the ball for long spells, which resulted in a lot of long searching passes from the defense into the attacking trio. The high-pressure of both defenses left both teams with plenty of space behind the backline and created some wide-open play for the afternoon tilt.
Haiti showed potential on the women’s side with a number of promising talents. Mondesir is already a name for the first team with 12 goals to her credit in seven appearances. Dumonay looks like she will be the next in line to make a splash while Theus showed she has potential to be a great goalkeeper at the international level. The squad will still have a battle though with the third place game on Sunday against the loser of the other semifinal.
The U.S. group has scrapped by at times during this competition, which has not been the standard for the U.S. Women’s program in the regional competition. The U20 team is riding a long-time winning streak through this event and had been victorious in the semifinal stage by multiple goals in most instances. Prior to Friday’s penalty kick win, the closest result for USA in the semifinal round was a 2-1 victory.
USA accomplished the goal of the event to qualify for the World Cup, but the team still has a lot of work to do to get ready for the real games in France later this year.