Ghana, the Netherlands, and Japan await the U-20 U.S. women’s national team in Group D as the draw for this summer’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup took place in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Thursday.
The U.S. qualified for the tournament after they decimated their regional rivals to win a seventh CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship in March.
Their toughest opponent in the group will be the defending U-20 World Cup champions Japan. The team from Asia has been a dominant force at youth level and is the only country to win Women’s World Cup titles at the senior, U-20, and U-17 levels. This year’s tournament will mark the third straight time the two countries square off against each other, with Japan having the upper hand with 1-0 victories in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
The U.S. will also face another familiar foe in Ghana as they have played against each other in three previous tournaments. Out of those three encounters, the Americans only came away with one victory — a 4-0 win at the 2012 edition in Japan.
The Netherlands will provide a new test for the three-time champions as they are making their second appearance in the competition.
“We can’t wait to take on the challenge of a World Cup,” U-20 USWNT head coach Tracey Kevins said after the draw. “I’m excited by our draw and the chance to take on some of the world’s best teams. To play the reigning champion in Japan, a rising European power in the Netherlands and an always dangerous African squad in Ghana is an incredible opportunity for our players. We have an expectation of excellence in our Women’s National Team program and we’ll be preparing every day until August 11 to give our best possible performance in Costa Rica.”
The team will open group play on Aug. 11 against Ghana followed by the Netherlands on Aug. 14. The big game against Japan will wrap Group D on Aug. 17.
Should the US book a spot in the quarterfinals, they will face either France, Nigeria, Canada, or South Korea from Group C.