Starting XI: Angelina Anderson, Smith Hunter, Natalia Staude, Michela Agresti, Makenna Morris, Sophia Jones, Hannah Bebar, Maya Doms, Trinity Byars, Sunshine Fontes, Payton Linnehan
The longer this game went on, the more I dreaded writing this game recap. There’s really only so many times you can write “set piece defending gives up a goal” or “a bad touch turned the ball over, ending yet another attempt to push into the final third.” Because that’s what happened, over and over and over again. There was no adjustment, no tactical or energy spark, nothing but a void of bad decisions and coaching failure. Please let this gif I tweeted during the game sum things up for you.
The U17s lined up in a 4-3-3 and promptly got picked apart by North Korea in their 4-4-2, overwhelmed in midfield and unable to compensate by pulling the game wide. Every time they made a sniff of an attempt at flank play they got pressured into a turnover (sometimes there wasn’t even that much pressure, there was just an unforced error thanks to yet another errant pass) and had to retreat into defense again.
North Korea struck their first blow in the 25’ off a corner kick. The US couldn’t clear the ball and after a flurry of shots, one finally slipped through the crowd near the post past a diving Anderson.
The second North Korean goal was in the 32’, once again a set piece, but this time a clean header from a corner. It was quite a nice deflected header, but at the same time, US marking was abysmal, as it was for many of North Korea’s set pieces.
The team looked completely set back by the two quick goals, playing tentatively in the back, making aimless passes along the back line as though they hoped a seam would open for them but unsure of how to make that happen. Every ball forward from deep got promptly sent back by North Korea as the US either lost their first and second balls or simply lost control of the ball with bad touches or bad passes.
Head coach Mark Carr made a halftime sub, with Trinity Rodman coming on for Linnehan. Offensive subs didn’t really make much of a difference in this game, though, considering how deep the US was forced to sit. They didn’t resort to hoofing it long and hoping someone would win the ball, but honestly they probably should have, since they were well within last-resort territory.
North Korea scored their third of the game in the 52’, a goal off a - you guessed it - corner kick.
The US finally got a half decent look at goal in the 61’, stringing together some decent movement to open up space in the final third, allowing Fontes to tee up a shot outside the 18. It curved away from the upper 90 but it wasn’t a bad effort given the complete lack of chances in this game.
The US subbed Jordan Caniff on for Fontes in the 62’, then Mia Fishel for Doms in the 74’. But the US needed more of a change up in the defense, as North Korea repeatedly played the ball in behind the back line along their left flank, gobbling up space for dangerous crosses.
The US surged in the last ten minutes or so, or at least they did compared to the rest of the game. It was probably the tempo they should have had from the start, but at least we saw Jones break the US out here and there with some nice simple balls, showing that the possibility of calm midfield possession exists. Right now it’s more of a story whispered around a campfire than a reality, but the possibility does exist. It’s on Mark Carr to figure out how to manifest that possibility into a win against Germany, who were most recently seen taking North Korea apart 4-1.
USA vs Germany
Wednesday, November 21
3 PM ET
Streaming on telemundodeportes.com