USA U-20 falls to France in tightly-contested 2018 Nike Friendlies opener.
Sam Kroeger Scores Sensational Goal; USA Will Face China PR on Sunday, Dec. 9 (6:30 p.m. ET)
USA 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 equalise 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.
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.
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 ussoccer.com and U.S. Soccer’s YouTube channel.
– 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.
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 64 degrees; partly cloudy
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
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)
ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Sam Kroeger
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