COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO, Uruguay – The United States opened its 2018 Under-17 Women’s World Cup campaign with a 3-0 win against a physical Cameroon team in the first Group C match for both teams Wednesday.
Midfielder Mia Fishel opened the scoring and forward Sunshine Fontes added two goals while goalkeeper Angelina Anderson was stellar against a nine-player Cameroon side.
The Americans’ defense kept a clean sheet – defender Mckenna Morris cleared back-to-back shots out of the goal mouth in the first half – against a Cameroon side that finished the game with nine players after having its goalkeeper and a defender sent off.
A wild first half saw end-to-end play, but the USA had trouble getting forward against a physical defense. The U.S. threatened on set pieces, which proved to be their avenue to the opening goal.
In the aftermath of a 22nd minute set-piece, Cameroon cleared the ball up the field, but one of its players was injured and stayed down near the top of the penalty box. While the Africans lobbied the referee, the USA kept playing. Defender Natalia Staude played short pass to Fishel up the middle. Fishel would have been offside had it not been for the prone Cameroonian defender, but she played the whistle and raced in on goal. Fishel’s first shot was saved by the goalkeeper, who pushed it squarely off the post. The rebound bounced back to Fishel, who finished her second chance for a 1-0 lead.
The goal spurred Cameroon to attack in greater numbers, but the U.S. defense held strong, highlighted by strong play from center backs Staude and Michela Agresti, as well as the goal-saving clearances from Morris.
Tensions continued to rise late in the first half as rough tackles resulted in two yellow cards for Cameroon. That culminated in a straight red card being shown to goalkeeper Christemilie Onomo, who flew in the air to cleat midfielder Maya Doms directly in the midsection as she chased a bouncing ball at the top of the penalty area. Referee Casey Reibelt brandished the red card.
The USA was fortunate that she also ruled the foul had taken place inside the penalty area. Fontes stepped up and sent the spot kick home to double the U.S advantage to 2-0 just before the half.
While Cameroon created several dangerous chances in the second half, the U.S. defense continued to make vital stops and Anderson made key saves in the 69th and 73rd minutes, tipping a long-range effort over the bar and parrying away a shot at the right post.
Fontes clinched the match in the 81st minute with a spectacular 32-yard chip shot that caught substitute goalkeeper Olga Ngo Esse far off her line and billowed the back of the net in the air.
Group C continues as the USA takes on defending champion Korea DPR in Colonia Saturday at noon ET. The match will be broadcast on FS2 and Universo as well as streamed on TelemundoDeportes.com and the Telemundo Deportes App.