The U.S. Under-20 Women’s national team opened its U-20 Women’s World Cup run with a 3-0 win over 10-player Ghana in Alajuela, Costa Rica on Thursday.
Forwards Michelle Cooper, Alyssa Thompson and Ally Sentnor scored on the second matchday of the tournament.
The Red, White and Blue outshot the Africans, 21-5, and placed eight shots on target to Ghana’s none.
The USA controlled the tempo from the start and had the great deal of possession while piling up an advantage in shots and shots on goal against a gritty Ghana side that went into every tackle with conviction. Ghana had four yellow cards in addition to the red card.
The Americans opened the scoring in the 11th minute when forward Jaedyn Shaw battled to keep possession in the final third and passed to outside back Laney Rouse on the right flank. Rouse beat her defender dribbling in the corner and sent a left-footed cross deep into the box to meet Cooper at the far post. The U.S. captain then finished with a header from close range.
Ghana’s day took a difficult turn in the 31st after midfielder Jacqueline Owusu, one of five players with professional experience, was shown a red card for a hard tackle from behind on midfielder Korbin Albert.
Seven minutes later, the USA doubled its lead when Cooper played a low, driven cross into the penalty box that Thompson finished into the roof of the net from just outside the six-yard box. The Americans almost added a third just before the halftime break, but Albert’s first-time attempt from the edge of the penalty box smashed off the underside of the crossbar and out.
In the 51st minute, Sentnor, who had come into the match as a halftime substitute for Cooper, found the back of the net after a forced turnover near midfield that resulted in a counterattack with a brilliant run of passing play. Sentnor’s goal was her first international score at the U-20 level and came almost exactly a year out from tearing her ACL.
Three minutes later, Ghana almost went down to nine players after midfielder Cecilia Nyama was shown a red card for another tackle from behind, but a VAR review overturned the call to a yellow card. The USA continued its pressing play, which combined with stout defensive performances from the back line, left Ghana with no shots or shots on target in the second half.
The USA will face Netherlands for the first time in a U-20 World Cup on Sunday at Estadio Nacional in San José (7 p.m. ET; FS1) and finish the group stage against Japan on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at Estadio Morera Soto (7 p.m. ET; FS2).