U-20 Women’s World Cup: USYNT v. Nigeria Semi-Final Preview

September 2, 2012
By

On Friday, the U-20 United States Woman’s Youth National Team defeated North Korea 2-1 in extra time to advance to the semifinals of the U-20 World Cup.

They will now face Nigeria on September 4th at 3 a.m. ET with the game being broadcast on ESPNU and ESPN3.

Here are five thoughts heading into the match.

Maya Hayes needs to be played centrally

As against Germany, USYNT forward Maya Hayes was played wide against North Korea, and again, it was a waste of her talent.

Using her as a center forward would do a lot to open up the game, as her pace will force Nigeria’s center backs to give her a cushion. This will open up space underneath her and allow her to check back to create the linkup play she is so adept at.

In the past two games, the U.S. has tried playing Kelly Cobb and Katie Stengel as the center forward and neither has significantly impacted the game.

Samantha Mewis needs to be played directly behind Hayes

Once she was introduced into the game against North Korea, Mewis opened things up immediately. She has great vision, as evidenced by her two assists against Ghana, and would provide the service from the midfield the U.S. has been lacking in the past two games.

Get Crystal Dunn forward as much as possible

Against North Korea, Dunn made run after run forward providing the U.S. with width in the attack and great service. Dunn can also create her own chances dribbling through the defense and cutting in to shoot.

Against North Korea, it was Dunn’s service in the 98th minute that created the game-winning goal.

Dunn has both the pace and understanding to recover when necessary, so sending her forward is not a problem.

Kealia Ohai is an exciting player

Ohai had a strong performance against North Korea, running hard for all 120 minutes.

She battled throughout the game and is a terror to defend as she never stops running and chases down every ball. In the 116th minute she managed to run down a ball over the top, even though the North Korean defender has a ten yard head start on her.

The University of North Carolina junior works hard to win the ball back and creates opportunities through her work rate alone.

She is the epitome of what has made the USWNT great over the past two decades.

Bryane Heaberlin needs to be more consistent

Heaberlin had three big saves against North Korea that kept the U.S. in the game. In the 27th minute, she came up big, parrying away a North Korean free kick that was bound for goal.

And, in the 88th and 92nd minutes, she did a nice job coming out to cut off passes that would have resulted in open shots on goal.

However, she had her shaky moments as well.

In the first half, she was caught in no man’s land coming out on a corner that she could only flail at, leaving North Korea with a free header at the back post that they luckily missed.

Then, in the 80th minute, she came out on a dead ball service that she had no chance at, leaving the net wide open again.

If the U.S. wants to have a chance at winning the tournament, she needs to be consistently good.

John D. Halloran
johnhalloran@hotmail.com


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2 Responses to U-20 Women’s World Cup: USYNT v. Nigeria Semi-Final Preview

  1. DE Dupuis on September 5, 2012 at 5:54 am

    I’ve only seen the USWNTU20s twice now, but both times I’ve been impressed by how much of a team they are, no one really sticks out as a star and no one seems weak. They seem to have bought into the total team possession game the USSF is moving American soccer toward. Against Nigeria, every Nigerian seemed faster and better on the ball, and yet the team held together, definitely a whole being greater than the sum of the parts deal.
    Johnston is certainly a rock in defense (they have her listed at 5’7″, but she sure looks bigger than everyone else) but there doesn’t seem to be a Morgan or Rapinoe on the team; but they’re still young. They’re fun to watch, but 6:10 ET, I hope my DVR is working.
    And I don’t know about you, but I’ll have to switch to satellite to get BeIn Sports USA.

    • John D. Halloran on September 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      Comcast, Dish Network and Directv are the carriers of beIN so far.

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