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USA - France play out exciting draw in FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup

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The U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team drew 0-0 with reigning European Under-19 champions France to open Group C play at the 2016 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup.

The USA will face New Zealand in its next Group C match on Nov. 17 at PNG Football Stadium (4 a.m. ET on FS1 and NBC Universo). In the other Group C game, New Zealand defeated Ghana 1-0 on an 89th minute goal and currently leads the group after one match day.

It was a physical match in which France had more shots and more ball possession than the Americans, while the U.S. team had perhaps the better scoring chances, but on a steamy night in the capital city of Papua New Guinea, neither side could manufacture a goal.

"What an absolutely incredibly athletic team France is," said U.S. head coach Michelle French. "They gave us all that we could handle and then some. They have personality players, they can take on and they can serve. With that being said, I could not be more impressed with the effort, grit, and the attitude of our team to compete. At the end of the day, we had a couple of opportunities to win so it was a great first game of our group."

The USA had an excellent scoring chance in the first half when Ashley Sanchez stole a ball deep inside the France half and raced down the right flank. Her pass to Mallory Pugh in the middle was a bit too far ahead of the U.S. captain and she crashed into France goalkeeper Mylene Chavas, who came out to smother the ball.

France center back Hawa Cissoko was a formidable presence for the entire match and was able to run down and defuse several forays from Pugh into the attacking third.

U.S. goalkeeper Casey Murphy also dominated her penalty box. While she was forced to make only four saves as many of France's shots did not trouble her, she caught a handful of well-played crosses, including cutting off very dangerous chances in the 55th and 56th minutes after the French had gotten to the end line to serve from close range.

Pugh created excellent scoring opportunities on long dribbling runs in the 31st and 62nd minutes, but on the first, she shot hard right at Chavas, and the second she blasted high as a defender closed on her.

The U.S. back line, led by Kaleigh Riehl, was stellar, for the most part keeping the talented France attackers in front of them. Outside back Ellie Jean fought an all-game battle with the dynamic Delphine Cascarino on the USA's left flank while the Americans team defensive spacing, work ethic and organization continually thwarted the French.

The USA did well to see out the last 10 minutes plus five minutes of stoppage time, and even had several chances to bag a late winner through the speedy Ally Watt, who had entered the game in 79th minute for Jessie Scarpa.

"I think we put ourselves in the best position to get acclimated with the pre-tournament camp we had in Australia," said French about the hot conditions. "You could tell both teams got pretty fatigued towards the end of the game and you could see that in the cramping. I think the water breaks definitely helped. Again, with the way we able to play from the first minute to the 90th minute and the commitment we played with, I think our preparation was fantastic."


USA: 1-Casey Murphy; 5-Madeline Elliston, 6-Taylor Otto, 3-Kaleigh Riehl, 14-Ellie Jean; 18-Ashley Sanchez, 10-Emily Ogle, 2-Parker Roberts (7-Savannah DeMelo, 65), 8-Courtney Petersen (16-Emily Fox, 76); 9-Mallory Pugh (capt.), 15-Jessie Scarpa (11-Ally Watt, 79)

Subs Not Used: 4-Sabrina Flores, 12-Rose Chandler, 13-Marley Canales, 17-Kelcie Hedge, 19-Natalie Jacobs, 20-Katie Cousins, 21-Brooke Heinsohn

Head Coach: Michelle French

FRA: 1-Mylene Chavas; 3-Sakina Karchaoui, 4-Hawa Cissoko, 12-Heloise Mansuy, 13-Thea Greboval (capt.), 14-Estelle Cascarino; 8-Onema Geyoro, 15-Maelle Garbino (9-Marie-Charlotte Leger, 69), 17-Juliane Gathrat; 7-Delphine Cascarino, 10-Clara Mateo (18-Valerie Gauvin, 83)

Subs Not Used: 2-Marion Romanelli, 5-Pauline Dhaeyer, 6-Laura Condon, 11-Louise Fleury, 16-Cindy Perrault, 19-Cathy Couturier, 20-Anna Clerac, 21-Jade Lebastard

Head Coach: Gilles Eyquem

Final Score: USA 0-0 France