U.S. knocks Canada out of CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship with 4-0 win

The Canadian Press

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Canada's hopes of qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup ended Wednesday in a 4-0 loss to the U.S. in quarterfinal play at the CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship.

The unbeaten U.S. will face the Dominican Republic in Friday's semifinal with a berth in the FIFA U-20 championship on the line. The host country downed Jamaica 2-1 in an earlier quarterfinal Wednesday.

In later quarterfinal play, Haiti beat Guyana 3-0 and Mexico played Trinidad and Tobago.

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Mia Fishel scored twice and Brianna Pinto and Kennedy Wesley added singles for the U.S., who have outscored their opposition 34-0 in five games at the CONCACAF qualifier. Fishel, who plays for UCLA, upped her tournament total to 10 goals. 

Canada (2-2-1) is done, falling two wins short of its goal — a semifinal win and FIFA-20 World Cup berth. They had hoped for more, but had little preparation time.

"There's no hiding from that it's obviously a very disappointing time but I am very proud of them, they put it all on the line," said Canada coach Rhian Wilkinson. "Today, we're upset and I'm very upset for our seniors who will be graduating out of the program."

Wilkinson noted that Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso and Jordyn Huitema, all still eligible to play at the under-20 level, are currently with the senior team.

"Our youth program is for giving opportunities, learning hard lessons so that one day we watch them wearing the jersey for our Canadian senior team," Wilkinson added. 

Competition is especially tight this year with just two FIFA U-20 World Cup berths up for grabs in the region instead of the normal three. That's because CONCACAF's Costa Rica and Panama are co-hosting the world championship in August.

Canada and the U.S. had met five previous times at the CONCACAF tournament, with the Americans holding a 3-2-0 edge. All five games were decided by one goal.

Wednesday's match marked the first time the two had met outside of the final, however. That's because Canada, after failing to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup two years ago, was seeded third this year and placed on the U.S. side of the draw.

The only way the two rivals were going to avoid an early showdown was if the Americans finished second in their preliminary-round group. Given the U.S. arrived with a 37-2-4 record all-time at this tournament, that was unlikely.

As expected, the Americans easily won their group. The Canadians finished second in their pool behind Jamaica, before defeating Cuba 6-0 in the round of 16.

Canada qualified for seven of the nine previous FIFA U-20 World Cups, reaching the quarterfinals in 2004 and 2014 and losing to the U.S. in the final of the inaugural 2002 tournament (when it was under-19) on home soil.

The U.S. has qualified for all nine U-20 World Cups, winning the tournament in 2008 and 2012 in addition to 2002.

The Americans had the better of the chances in the first half Wednesday, rattling the woodwork twice and scoring twice.

Trinity Rodman, the 19-year-old daughter of former NBA star Dennis Rodman, forced a save from Canadian goalkeeper Anna Karpenko in the 32nd minute and the ball bounced back to Katelyn Duong, whose shot from just outside the penalty box hammered off the cross bar.

The U.S. went ahead in the 35th minute off a corner. Karpenko punched the ball away but it was headed back into the box and Fishel, swinging a leg high, knocked it in.

Pinto made it 2-0 in the 41st off another corner with her sixth of the competition. Captain Naomi Girma sent in a low cross that Fishel smartly let run through her legs to an unmarked Pinto in front to slot home. 

Another set piece cost Canada in the 54th minute as Wesley beat her marker to make it 3-0 with a header.

The fourth goal came from Fishel in the 67th minute with the Canadian defence sliced open by a nice feed from Alexa Spaanstra.

The Americans have made the championship game in all eight CONCACAF tournaments that staged a final, winning five times. The first tournament, in 2002, did not proclaim a winner with Mexico and the U.S. qualifying for the FIFA championship as group winners.

Canada won the CONCACAF competition in 2004 and 2008 and finished runner-up to the U.S. in 2006, 2012 and 2015. The Canadians failed to qualify in 2018, losing to Mexico in a semifinal penalty shootout and then 1-0 to Haiti in the third-place game.

France, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Spain have already qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, joining co-hosts Costa Rica and Panama. Two teams from each of Africa and South America still have to qualify.

 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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