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U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS

November 29, 2016
NOT SEMIFINAL TOUGH ENOUGH
U.S. women fall in U-20 World Cup semis to North Korea


Ri Hyang Sim scored a minute into extratime to North Korea to a 2-1 victory over the United States in the semifinals of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Tuesday.

Only 48 seconds after the restart, the Koreans tallied. The play started on a dead ball after the USA was called for offside. Korea DPR played the ball to the left and then up the middle. A series of passes got the ball into the right side of the penalty area to Sim, who had an uncontested shot from inside the six-yard box and she stuffed her shot into the near post past charging U.S. goalkeeper Casey Murphy for the game winner.

The Koreans dominated huge swaths of the game, outshooting the Americans, 25-7, and placing seven shots on goal to the USA's two.

"I think you saw why Korea DPR made the semifinal and why the growth of the game in their country has propelled them to so much success," U.S. head coach Michelle French said. "I thought the first 90 minutes we did well enough to be in the game. It's an extremely disappointing feeling for those players right now who left every bit of energy and every piece of their heart out on the field today."

The USA will face the loser of the France-Japan semifinal in the third-place match Saturday at the National Football Stadium (1 a.m. ET on FS1 and telemundo.com).

"Now we're at a point where we have to turn around and refocus because we have an opportunity to earn a medal," French said. "Our players need to realize that. Their job isn't done and they're going to have every opportunity against whoever our opponent is [in the third place match] to come out and show why we deserve to be in the final four."

The Koreans drew first blood via a penalty kick in the 51st minute after U.S. midfielder Katie Cousins was whistled for a handball while blocking a shot. Jon So Yon converted her spot kick into the lower right corner as Murphy jumped the other way.

As the game wore on, the technically savvy and organized Korea DPR team had the lion's share of the possession.

French sent on attackers Ally Watt, Kelcie Hedge and Jessie Scarpa between the 66th and 78th minutes, but it was a defender who struck for the equalizer.

In the 89th minute, Scarpa cut back on her defender from the left wing and sent a cross into the penalty area for Pugh. She took a hard touch and it bounced off a defender, then off Mallory Pugh, before a Korea defender made a poor clearance. Natalie Jacobs came flying through to hit a left-footed, first-time volley that looped into the right side of the net to tie the game.

Due to the cooling break and several injuries in the stifling heat, seven minutes of stoppage time were added to the end of the match that saw some wild end-to-end play. The USA was forced to play the last four minutes of stoppage time with 10 players after Watt had to go out injured as the Americans had already made their three allowed substitutes in regulation. Watt went down hard in the 81st minute as she was violently decked from behind by Korean defender.

"I said it all tournament, I couldn't be more proud," French said. "Again you find a way to get the goal at the end. We never gave up, I think in the end, the 4 o'clock games that we had (in the heat) and the possession that Korea DPR had, it just started to add up and you could see our players start to fatigue a little bit. That's 100 percent to be expected, so great game for Korea DPR and best of luck to them in the final."

   
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