By BRYAN ROBISON
Just days after falling to the German club 3-0 in the group stage of the tournament, the United States shocked Germany 1-0 on Saturday to win the U-20 World Cup in Tokyo, Japan. Kealia Ohai scored her second goal of the tournament late in the first half, which proved to be the game-winning goal.
Despite a flurry of chances for the Germans for the equalizer, they were never able to get it past USA goalkeeper Bryane Hearberlin, as the American defense held the Germans out of the net, the first match of the tournament that Germany was shut out.
Germany, the defending champions of the tournament, had yet to concede a goal throughout the entire tournament going into the championship match. That scoreless streak came to an end thanks to Ohai's game-winner. In the 44th minute, Crystal Dunn made a run down the right side of the field, cutting towards the middle of the field inside the box. After a deflection by Germany, Ohai knocked it in past the diving German keeper Laura Benkarth to put the Americans ahead.
From there, the American defense tightened up. Germany did not go down without a fight, though, as they came close to evening up the match in the second half. The match came down to the final whistle as Haeberlin made two crucial saves in the closing seconds of stoppage time to close out the match and the win for the Americans.
The tournament was full of ups and downs for the American women, as they advanced through group stage play after finishing in a tie for second with China. In fact, they tied the Chinese women in their group stage match 1-1, but advanced through the round thanks to a goal differential advantage. They then needed extra time in the quarterfinals to defeat the North Korean women, who scored an astounding fifteen goals in their three group stage matches. In the semi-finals, they shut out Nigeria 2-0 to advance to the championship match.
Earlier in the day, the host nation of Japan knocked off Nigeria 2-1 to finish third place in the tournament.
This is the third U-20 World Cup title for the United States, after winning the tournament in 2002 and 2008, as well. Germany came in as defending champions after winning it in 2010.