• Wednesday Dec 17, 2008

    Year in Review: USA claims CONCACAF U-17 women's crown, falls just short at World Cup

    The USA fell short in the final of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, yet a silver medal and three major individual honors foretells a bright future for the Americans.

    Kazbek Tambi's side lost 2:1 in extra time to Korea DPR after leading late in the second half. Despite the setback in New Zealand, its performance indicated a continued presence among the elite of the women's game.

    "They've accomplished a lot here and, in experiencing a World Cup at 16, 17, they're going to be way ahead of the game when it comes to pushing on to the next level," Tambi said. "My belief is that our full team will become even stronger as a result over the years."

    Tambi's squad started by dropping its group opener to Japan. But it rebounded to beat Paraguay and draw with France to reach the quarterfinals. There, it beat Germany before downing Republic of Korea in the semifinals to reach the final.

    Vicki DiMartino led the Americans with five goals to capture the Silver Shoe award, while Courtney Verloo added four to help pace the USA attack.

    Taylor Vancil won the Golden Glove as the tournament's best goalkeeper and Kristie Mewis came home with the Bronze Ball as the third-best player overall in the inaugural event.

    The USA were joined in the tournament by fellow CONCACAF nations Canada and Costa Rica, who had fair showings. Costa Rica achieved a milestone by qualifying for its first Women's World Cup event.

    The Central Americans upset Canada 2:0 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championship in Trinidad to make history. But they fell to the USA 4:1 in the final and their time in New Zealand was short, losing all three group matches while being outscored 8:1.

    Las Ticas were overwhelmed 5:0 by perennial women's power Germany in the first match, but were even with eventual champion Korea DPR before allowing a 65th-minute goal and falling 2:1. A 1:0 loss to Ghana closed the campaign, but with the optimism that it was able to improve as the tournament progressed.

    "Even though we let Germany beat us too easily, we were able to pick ourselves up and prove that Costa Rican football is worthy of a place among the best national teams at this level," coach Juan Diego Quesada said.

    Canada nearly missed its trip to New Zealand after losing to Costa Rica in CONCACAF qualifying. But it recovered to beat Mexico 1:0 and reach for the World Cup with the third and final place from the confederation.

    Bryan Rosenfeld's side went undefeated in the group stage, winning once and drawing twice. It beat host New Zealand and managed ties against Colombia and Denmark, managing only two goals in three games. The dearth of offense would eventually prove its downfall in in the quarterfinals.

    Canada fell 3:1 to Germany, preventing an all CONCACAF Canada-USA showdown in the semifinals.

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