USWNT U-20s Crash Out Of World Cup With Worst Tournament Performance In Team History

One win, two losses and a negative two goal difference.

The USWNT U-20s were bounced out of 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup in the group stage on Wednesday after suffering a 3-1 defeat to reigning champions Japan in Alajuela, Costa Rica. The U.S. finished the group stage with one victory and two losses, the team’s worst showing in the 10 editions of the tournament.

The Americans finished third in Group D ahead of Ghana but behind Japan and the Netherlands. The U.S. opened the tournament with a 3-0 victory vs. Ghana but then followed that game with a 3-0 defeat to the Dutch.

Entering the group stage finale, the Americans’ chances of qualifying were low. The scenarios of qualifying were either defeating Japan — which had yet to concede in the tournament — by at least two goals or getting a one goal victory/draw hoping the Dutch dropped points against Ghana.

The first half was a timid affair with both the U.S. and Japan failing to create any clear-cut chances. A diving save from Japan goalkeeper Shu Ohba off a deflected shot early on was the best chance of the first 45 for either side.

Japan took advantage of its chances in the second half. Manaka Matsukubo scored the goal that the U.S. dreaded in the 55th minute and sliced and diced the American defense on her way to scoring.

With the Netherlands comfortably beating Ghana, Matsukubo’s goal meant that the USWNT U-20s would need to score three unanswered goals to qualify for the knockout stages.

Things turned from bad to worse for the U.S. 12 minutes later when Shinomi Koyama scored a thunderous goal in the top corner that effectively booked the U.S. flight back home.

A consolation goal from Simone Jackson in the 70th minute provided some life, however it was far too late. The sophomore from USC came on in the 61st minute and was arguably the best player for the U.S. on the night, including Olivia Moultrie from the Portland Thorns.

Japan’s Haruna Tabata added a third goal for her side in the 84th minute to rub salt into the gaping American wounds.

Concacaf had a poor showing at the tournament with Costa Rica finishing bottom of its group and the U.S. failing to advance out of the group stage for a second tournament in-a-row. The U.S. had made it to the knockout stages in the previous eight U-20 Women’s World Cups.

Canada lost its first two group stage games and is all but eliminated. Mexico is the only hope for Concacaf finishing second in a group that featured Germany, Colombia and New Zealand.

Mexico plays Spain in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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