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Global Dec 08, 2018

U.S. U-20 WNT falls to France 2-1 in Nike Friendlies opener

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LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (Via U.S. Soccer) – The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team dropped a hard-fought 2-1 result to France in its opening match of the 2018 Women’s Nike International Friendlies.

France struck first and last goal in Florida, while the USA showed it mettle to initially equalize behind a goal from forward Samantha Kroeger just after halftime.

The early-going was evenly-matched, as France showcased its speed and skill on the ball while the USA worked hard to create the game’s first chances. Forwards Reilyn Turner and Samantha Kroeger were spark-plugs for the U.S. attack in the opening stages, while Kroeger served as the turn-key in two of the USA’s best early opportunities, getting her foot on a nice ball into the box from Brianna Martinez in the opening 10 minutes and slotting in a threatening ball in the 20th.

France struck quickly in transition for the game’s opening goal in the 22nd. Winning the ball near the midfield stripe, Sonia Ouchene dribbled across the middle and threaded it to Melvine Malard streaking towards goal. While U.S. goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff got her fingertips on it, Malard pounced on the deflection to slot home the first goal for France.

+READ: Alex Morgan, Tierna Davidson win U.S. Soccer Female POY awards

While the U.S. managed a few dangerous balls into the box as the half progressed, it couldn’t find a finish. Heading into the break, the U.S. defense stood tall to fend off a few good chances from France. Hancuff made some nice saves in the 31st and first minute of stoppage time, while Martinez made a big tackle to squash a good look for France in the 44th.

The USA’s equalizer came with an exclamation point shortly after the half. Allen played a booming ball over the top up the left wing in the 53rd. Kroeger beat her defender to the ball and the five-foot-two forward unleashed a dipping long-range one-timer from outside the box to the far top corner.

Following the goal, the USA searched for a game-winner and held the better of the attack as Turner continued to provide danger and some second-half substitutes provided a spark. However, France broke through in the 77th, on another quick-strike goal. A nice interchange opened up Selma Bacha on the left wing and she played it to Malard near the six-yard-box, where the forward slotted it past a sliding defender and the ‘keeper for the goal that proved to be the difference.

U.S. substitute Rebecca Jarrett won a footrace on the right wing in the 86th and sent a cross in for a sliding Kroeger, but the goalkeeper slid to match her and deflected it off of her foot. In stoppage time, Jarrett was free again on the wing, and with the ‘keeper coming out to face her swung her shot just wide as France escaped giving up a second equalizer.

+READ: U.S. WNT ‘Countdown to the Cup’ 2019 schedule unveiled

The USA continues the 2018 Women’s Nike International Friendlies on Sunday, Dec. 9 against China PR at 6:30 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on and U.S. Soccer’s YouTube channel.

Goal Scoring Rundown
FRA – Melvine Malard (Sonia Ouchene), 22nd minute: When Mickaella Cardia won the ball near the half line, France wasted no time getting forward in transition. Cardia played it to Ouchene, who controlled it and touched up to Malard on the run towards the net. She beat her mark by a step, and while U.S. goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff got her fingertips on the initial attempt on-goal, Malard took the deflection and put it into the back of the net for the game’s opening goal. USA 0, FRA 1

USA – Samantha Kroeger (Abby Allen), 53rd minute: After a free kick in the U.S. defensive third, Maycee Bell played to Abby Allen. From near the midfield stripe, she launched a booming ball up the left wing over the France defense to forward Samantha Kroeger. She one-timed a rocket from outside the box into the top right corner of the net to draw the USA even. USA 1, FRA 1

FRA – Melvine Malard (Selma Bacha), 77th minute: After winning the ball, Selma Bacha played it up to Sandy Baltimore near the half-line. Following the pass, Bacha cut up the left wing and Baltimore played it back to her through the defense. As she curled towards the corner of the box, she passed to Malard on the run towards goal. When a U.S defender slipped in the box, Malard took a moment, settled and slotted a ball to the right post, just beating a U.S. tackle attempt. USA 1, FRA 2 FINAL

Key Defensive Stops
FRA – Justine Lerond, Grace Kazadi, 10th minute: Brianna Martinez sparked the game’s first dangerous chance, playing a great ball in from just outside the top right corner of the box towards goal. Samantha Kroeger was there to receive near the six-yard-box, and got her leg up on the ball, but was sandwiched by French goalkeeper Justine Lerond and Grace Kazadi to keep things scoreless early.

USA – Hensely Hancuff, 31st minute: Maelvine Malard made a nice run across the middle of the field and played a nice ball past a diving U.S. defender to Mickaella Cardia on the run up the right wing. U.S. ‘keeper Hensley Hancuff was aggressive and dove on the attempt to snuff out any chance for a shot on goal.

USA – Brianna Martinez, 44th minute: As France worked the ball upfield, Eva Kouache played a nice ball over the U.S. defense up the left wing to Julie Dufour. While she got to the ball first, Brianna Martinez, her marking defender, stuck with her and played her tight. A tough tackle poked the ball out and stifled any potential attempt.

FRA – Justine Lerond, 86th minute: Rebecca Jarrett provided a spark down the stretch as a substitute and catalyzed the USA’s best late chance. She used her speed to get loose on the left wing, beating her first marking defender and then evaded a slide-tackle attempt from another French player. As she approached the end line, she slotted a cross into the six-yard-box, and Samantha Kroeger was well-positioned to meet it. As she slid to put it on-goal, the French goalkeeper slid at the same time, getting a foot on it to poke it out of bounds.

– U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team vs. France
Date: December 7, 2018
Competition: 2018 Women’s Nike International Friendlies
Venue: Premier Sports Campus; Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
Attendance: TBD
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 64 degrees; partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                          0 1 1
FRA                          1 1 2

FRA – Melvine Malard (Sonia Ouchene)    22nd minute
USA – Sam Kroeger (Abby Allen)               55
FRA – Melvine Malard (Selma Bacha)        77

USA: 22-Hensley Hancuff; 14-Abby Allen, 2-Bri Martinez, 4-Maycee Bell, 3-Natalie Mauer, 8-Brianna Pinto (capt.), 23-Cori Dyke (13-Isabella Cook, 70), 10-Emily Grey (6-Megan Bornkamp, 82), 7-Alexa Spaanstra (17-Rebecca Jarrett, 70), 9-Reilyn Turner, 11-Sam Kroeger (20-Jaelyn Eisenhart, 82)
Substitutes not used: 1-Claudia Dickey, 12-Lisa Martinez, 5-Tori Hansen, 15-Laney Rouse, 19-Leah Godfrey, 21-Sydney Simmons
Head Coach: Keri Sarver

FRA: 1-Justin Lerond, 5-Maëlle Lakrar, 14-Grâce Kazadi, 4-Emeline Saint Georges, 3-Selma Bacha, 19-Mickaella Cardia (18-Lorena Azzaro, 63), 8-Sonia Ouchene (9-Margaux Le Mouel, 63), 11-Sandy Baltimore, 10-Eva Kouache (capt.) (6-Carla Polito, 70), 17-Julie Dufour, 7-Melvine Malard (2-Magou Doucoure, 88)
Substitutes not used: 16-Camille Pinel, 13-Caroline Pimentel, 15-Laurène Martin, 20-Naomie Feller
Head coach: Gilles Eyquem

Stats Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 10 / 15
Shots on Goal: 3 / 7
Saves: 5 / 2
Corner Kicks: 2 / 5
Fouls: 8 / 16
Offside: 2 / 5

Misconduct Summary:
FRA – Selma Bacha (caution)        76th minute

Referee: Samantha Martinez (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Sarah Cortez (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Katarzyna Wasiak (USA)
4th Official: Nicole Green (USA) Woman of the Match: Sam Kroeger