After two uninspired performances, the USA finally looked like the defending U-20 World Cup champion it is in a 3-0 win over China PR to advance to the quarterfinals against Korea DPR. USA Head Coach Michelle French made several adjustments, which paid off immediately as the US squad pressed higher up the field, disrupting a China team that likes to play out of the back.
The must-win game for both teams saw French move Lindsey Horan to an attacking midfield role beneath Savannah Jackson to start the game and pushed Mallory Pugh out wide right. The benefits were immediate; Horan’s composure on the ball was evident as she kept possession and changed the point of attack. Pugh’s speed kept China’s attacking left back, Mengwen Li, busy and at home. In China’s 5-5 draw with Germany, the Germans took advantage of the defender’s forward-thinking mentality and exploited the side repeatedly.
Horan opened the scoring in the 19th minute, taking a cross from Makenzy Doniak and calmly slotting the right-footed half volley past China’s Feifei Lu. It would be Horan again in the 38th minute as the ball fell to the her after Savannah Jordan headed the ball down off a Rose Lavelle corner kick.
Rose Lavelle continued her impressive form in the tournament. The midfielder’s work rate and passing was on full display in the early second-half counterattack that sealed the victory for the United States. It was Lavelle’s diagonal pass to a drifting-out-wide-right Horan that caught out a pressing Chinese defense. Lavelle continued her run down the middle, holding back at the top of the box as Horan found her. Lavelle pulled it back to her right foot and buried the shot.
The USA defense held and China was unable to pull one back. The loss eliminates China, which hasn’t advanced out of group play since 2006. The United States will face Korea DPR, which topped Group A.
USA – Lindsey Horan (Makenzy Doniak) – 19′
USA – Lindsey Horan – 38′
USA – Rose Lavelle (Lindsey Horan) – 49′