After a slow start in Group B with a loss to group-winners Germany and barely edging Brazil in their first two games, USA came to life in their final group stage match beating China PR 3-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle impressed for the Stars and Stripes in Moncton, Horan bagging a brace before Lavelle added a third goal just after half-time.
USA looked the stronger side from the beginning, with 16-year old Mallory Pugh impressing early on. The No12’s looping header initially appeared harmless enough but it caught China’s goalkeeper Lu Feifei off guard and her backline needed to quickly clear the danger once the ball came back into the area after deflecting off the far post.
Pugh then hit the post in the 16th minute as the Americans continued to attack, and three minutes later Horan put Michelle French’s side ahead with a stunning strike. Makenzy Doniak served in a long ball that Horan brought down nicely with her chest, giving the No10 space alone in the middle of the area and her half-volley smashed off the underside of the crossbar, referee Katalin Kulcsar correctly spotting the ball had crossed the goal-line before bouncing back out.
Horan added her second, seven minutes before half-time, finishing a loose ball that dropped into the box from Lavelle’s corner kick. Horan, who leads her USA side with three goals scored in the tournament so far, missed on her first attempt but had time to collect herself and send her rebound through a sea of defenders and past Lu.
The second half started similarly to the first 45 minutes, with the Americans on the front foot, which prevented the Chinese from ever getting a solid grasp on the match. In the 49th minute, Lavelle made it 3-0 by finishing off a quick counter-attack she started in the midfield.
The midfielder found Horan out wide on the right, who confidently dribbled past several defenders en route to the by-line before doing well to spot Lavelle unmarked at the top of the box. Lavelle’s first touch cleverly beat her defender and the No5 beat Lu at the far post, scoring a goal reminiscent of Horan’s strike in the 82nd minute to beat Brazil in USA’s second group stage game.
That blow left China PR with little to no chance of coming back, and the Americans did well to firm up their defensive line with goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland a spectator for much of the 90 minutes. With Germany’s emphatic 5-1 win over Brazil taking place in Montreal at the same time as USA’s win in Moncton, the Europeans finished top of Group B and will face hosts Canada, while the Stars and Stripes will meet Korea DPR.
Live Your Goals player of the match: Lindsey Horan (USA)