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Charlotte Kohler’s brace lifts US to quarterfinals at U-17 World Cup

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The United States' Charlotte Kohler celebretes after scoring a goal against Morocco during group play at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup on Monday in Goa, India. (Masashi Hara/FIFA via Getty Images)

Ahead of her FIFA U-17 World Cup debut last week, Charlotte Kohler said she couldn’t wait to see her father, Will, after the match.

On Monday, Will was beaming.

With her father looking on during Monday’s match, Charlotte scored a brace to lead the United States to a 4-0 win over Morocco at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa, India, bringing her tournament total to a team-leading three goals as the Americans captured first place in Group A. Sam Smith also had a brace for the U.S. in her first U-17 cap.

The 2022 World Cup offers a unique generational story between Charlotte and Will. Thirty-one years ago, Will was a star midfielder on the U.S. U-17 men’s national team at the 1991 U-17 World Championship.

Now, Charlotte is carrying the torch.

“His experience was a little bit different because I had already played in Concacaf, whereas his was more of like a first-time thing going to the World Cup, which would be very intimidating, so our experiences were kind of different,” Charlotte said in an interview prior to the start of group play. “But we both shared the same gratitude toward the opportunity.

“He played a huge role in both me and my siblings. He’s just a great supporter. He comes to all my games, drives us all the long distances.”

Will went on to be a four-year letterwinner for the Harvard men’s soccer team and was a captain his senior year. Following his college career, he was selected fifteenth overall in the second round by the New York/New Jersey MetroStars in the 1997 MLS College Draft.

“We both are small, quick midfielders,” Charlotte said. “Everyone always says I’m scrappy, which is how he played, too, so I guess that’s similar.”

Will was all smiles while watching his daughter from the stands on Monday.

In the 24th minute, Charlotte got the scoring started on an assist from Melina Rebimbas to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead that held until halftime. Smith made her first appearance for the U.S. in the second half and found the back of the net in the 68th minute before Charlotte followed it up shortly thereafter with another goal in the 73rd minute. Smith capped the scoring in the 81st minute on a cross from Amalia Villarreal.

The win gives the U.S. the top spot in Group A after finishing with a plus-12 goal differential over second-place Brazil (plus-6). The two teams played to a 1-1 draw on Friday and finished atop the Group A table with seven points apiece. The U.S. will now turn its attention to a quarterfinal matchup with Nigeria on Friday, while Brazil takes on Group B winner Germany.

For the U.S., the victory clinched the its first return to the knockout stage since the inaugural tournament in 2008 when it finished runner-up to Korea DPR in New Zealand. It’s also the first time the U.S. has won its group.

Charlotte’s three goals are followed closely behind by Rebimbas, who has two goals. The U.S. opened the tournament with an 8-0 win over India, during which Gisele Thompson, whose sister Alyssa earned her first cap with the USWNT in a 2-1 friendly loss to England on Oct. 7, scored for the Americans.

The U.S. is captained by midfielder Riley Jackson, the reigning Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

The seventh edition of the U-17 World Cup was initially scheduled for 2020 but was then postponed due to COVID-19. The tournament features 16 teams from around the globe.

Trent Singer is the High School Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @trentsinger.