USA have a proud history at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, finishing among the top four at all but one of the previous editions. Back in 2002, when the competition was launched as the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship, the Americans lifted the trophy after an extra-time win over hosts Canada. The United States followed up that initial triumph with a third-place and fourth-place finish at Thailand 2004 and Russia 2006 respectively. However, their current history at the global showpiece is one of contrasting fortunes. At Chile 2008, USA were crowned champions over Korea DPR, but went on to endure a worst-ever finish at the next instalment in Germany where they crashed out at the quarter-finals stage to Nigeria.
For a core of USA players, arriving at Japan 2012 not only represents an opportunity for redemption after an early exit at Germany 2010, but a chance to rebound from a shock failure to qualify for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2010 in Trinidad & Tobago. In booking their place at the world finals, USA defeated all three of their group stage opponents with ease before claiming a comfortable 4-0 victory over Mexico in the semi-finals. USA ended the qualifying tournament with typical resolve scoring a comeback win against rivals Canada to win their second successive U-20 CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
Although USA have long been a global power in the women’s game, attention has shifted towards developing more talent at youth level following the disappointments for the U-20 and U-17 teams in 2010. USA coach Steve Swanson is keen on fostering a possession-oriented squad with a high-speed of play, while also developing stars for the future that will have an impact at senior level.
Facts and figures
Rachel Buehler (2002/2004), Heather O’Reilly (2002), Megan Rapinoe (2004), Lauren Cheney (2006), Alex Morgan (2008), Sydney Leroux (2008/2010)
Maya Hayes (forward), Morgan Brian (midfielder), Crystal Dunn (defender)
1 – The number of times USA have failed to finish among the top four at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. At Germany 2010, the Americans suffered a shock exit to Nigeria in the quarter-finals.