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National Teams Apr 16, 2012

U.S. U-20 WNT tops China 3-0 concluding training at the Home Depot Center

The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team scored once in the first half and twice in the second, including a stoppage time free kick from Samantha Mewis, to defeat its counterparts from China 3-0.

The match brought an end to the USA’s training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and completed a two-game sweep against China that included the USA’s 4-1 victory on April 12. Both teams have qualified for the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup that will be held from Aug. 18-Sept. 8 in Japan.

U.S. head coach Steve Swanson made seven changes from the starting lineup that faced China last Thursday, putting out a team that was a mixture of regulars and less experienced players. Julie Johnston, the USA’s usual defensive midfielder, started in the center of the defense with Kassey Kallman and they helped lead a U.S. defense that allowed just two total shots from China and none on goal.

“We were a little inconsistent, a little erratic, but for a match that came at the end of a long, good week of training, it was certainly a positive result,” said U.S. head coach Steve Swanson. “We are looking at some players as we continue to build the roster and we had some good sequences at times, especially in the attacking third. We have some other areas where we can get better in terms of being more consistent, and that’s the biggest thing, looking for consistency on both sides of the ball over long periods of time as we get closer to the World Cup.”

The USA pressured China from the start and scored just 10 minutes into the match when Chioma Ubogagu got behind the China defense and shot from 10 yards out. The ball didn’t have much pace on it, but a sloppy play by Chinese goalkeeper Yang Yan saw her bat the ball down instead of catching it. She couldn’t fall on the rebound quickly enough before Katie Stengel darted in to touch it away from the goalkeeper near the right post. Stengel then wheeled back toward the goal and fired home from a sharp angle into the left side netting. It was Stengel’s fourth international goal in 13 U-20 caps.

Stengel came close to adding to her goal total twice more in the first half. In the 26th minute, she bent a left-footed blast from 25 yards that had eyes for the upper left corner before sailing just over the goal. Three minutes later, a nice attacking sequence from the USA got the ball to Lindsey Horan down the left wing. She beat her defender to the end line and cut the ball back to Stengel who shot hard on goal only to see her chance blocked in the goal mouth by a defender.

Horan had a chance of her own just before halftime as she ran under an Ubogagu cross from the right side. Horan latched onto the ball at the far post, but her cross from a steep angle rolled past the goal and out the other side.

The USA made it 2-0 in the 50th minute off a cross from Stengel that came from the left wing. China couldn’t clear the ball and Ubogagu dug it out and shot from close range. The ball bounced off a defender and settled into the right corner. It was Ubogagu’s sixth international goal in eight U-20 caps.

Forward Maya Hayes entered the game for Ubogagu in the 63rd minute and moments later stole the ball from the Chinese center back. She raced at goal for her one-on-once chance but Yang came out hard to turn away her shot.

China’s best chance came in the 75th minute when Li Ying drove a shot just over the crossbar and the leaping Emily Oliver, who had replaced starting goalkeeper Jami Kranich at halftime.

“It’s great to play a team like China who has a little different style than some of the other teams we play, but sometimes you can get carried away with results and not the performance,” said Swanson. “The more important thing is if we played well that day on both sides of the ball and if we played the way we wanted to. Right now it’s more about the performance than the result. Come August, we know we can play with anybody [in the World Cup] and that’s important for us, but it’s a whole new thing at the World Cup so we have to be able play a complete 90 minutes.”

The USA’s final goal came during the one minute of stoppage time as Hayes was taken down at the top of the penalty box as she was threatening to break free on a dribbling run up the middle. Chinese defender Yu Haiyan was given a yellow card for the foul and Mewis took the free kick from 19 yards out. She bent the ball around the wall and into the lower right corner of the net. Mewis also scored in second half stoppage time on April 12 against China and now has seven career goals in 30 U-20 caps, tied for second most on this current squad.

The U.S. team will now go on a break as the players will return to their colleges and high schools before reconvening for a training camp at The Home Depot Center in May.

“It’s important that we look at our entire team,” said Swanson. “Twenty-one players sounds like a big group [for the World Cup roster], but in reality, with the games we are playing and time between them, every game matters. From that standpoint, we are taking every player seriously, not just the 90-minute players. We’ve been able to see a lot of talent and evaluate of lot of players, and that’s important.”

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