For the second World Cup in a row, the USWNT U-20s are going home after the group stage. Needing a 2-goal victory, the USWNT U-20s fell short of advancing past the group stage at the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup after losing to defending champions Japan by a 3-1 score tonight in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
The USA found themselves in a win-or-go-home situation after losing to Netherlands 3-0 last Sunday, forcing them into a position where they had to defeat Japan by two goals.
And obviously, it didn’t work out that way.
Both teams carried a scoreless draw into halftime. Ally Senator gave the USA the only legitimate chance of getting on the board early when her shot from the top of the penalty box ricocheted off a Japan defender and almost into the back of the net before Shu Ohba regained position for the diving save.
Japan jumped on the board first in the second half thanks to Manaka Matsukobo’s left-footed strike. It only took 12 minutes for Japan to score again when Shinomi Koyamo sailed the ball to the top left corner of the goal. It was the exclamation point Japan needed to secure its advancement to the next round.
The USA gave a valiant effort for the remainder of the game. Simone Jackson scored from 5 yards out in the 70th minute, cutting Japan’s lead to 2-1. Jackson had another opportunity to score, but missed on a header that would have tied the game. The missed opportunity turned out to be a killer because Japan followed it with their own goal from Haruna Tabata in the 84th minute.
The last time the USA advanced to the knockout stage was in 2016, when they finished in fourth place after losing to Japan 1-0 in the 3rd place match. Two years later, they lost to Japan in the FIFA U-20 World Cup group stage. This is the USA’s third consecutive U-20 Women’s World Cup loss to Japan.
Japan and the Netherlands advance out of Group D to the knockout stage of the tournament. Japan will await the runner-up of Group C, which is likely to be either France or South Korea. Japan is looking to win their 2nd straight U-20 Women’s World Cup. Meanwhile, the USWNT U-20s will have to wait 2 more years to once again try for a 4th U-20 Women’s World Cup title.