Lily Yohannes, 16, nets first goal in USWNT win over South Korea

June 5, 2024, 12:29 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Sixteen-year-old Lily Yohannes scored 10 minutes into her international debut on Tuesday at Allianz Field in the United States women's national team's 3-0 victory over South Korea to become the third-youngest scorer in program history.

"It's a dream come true, really," said Yohannes, who came in as a substitute in the 72nd minute. "I played this scenario out in my head like how many times before this game? Just having the idea of coming on and scoring."

Yohannes is the eighth-youngest player to debut for the USWNT and the youngest to take the field for the team since March 2021.

"She doesn't look like a 16-year-old," coach Emma Hayes said after the match. "She knows what I think about her. I've really pushed and wanted her in this squad."

Yohannes scored in the 82nd minute, after forward Trinity Rodman collected a short corner kick and dribbled past her defender to slide a ball to Yohannes for the finish from 10 yards out. The teenager ran to the corner to celebrate and was quickly surrounded by exuberant teammates.

"That was so special," Yohannes said. "I think that made it just that much more special. I just took off to the corner, and I saw all of them running at me. Just super, super special and so grateful. Such a great team."

After the final whistle, several U.S. players sprinted straight to Yohannes for group hugs.

Hayes said she told Yohannes at the beginning of training camp last week that she would use her in the midfield for her debut at some point in the two matches against South Korea during this international window.

The new coach is deeply familiar with Yohannes, having played against her in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage when Hayes was still managing Chelsea.

Yohannes was born in Virginia, but her family moved to the Netherlands when she was 10. She signed with Dutch club Ajax as a 15-year-old and last fall became the youngest player to start a UEFA Women's Champions League group stage match.

Netherlands coach Andries Jonker has publicly courted the midfielder and said that Yohannes was pursuing a Dutch passport, but Yohannes had said multiple times before this training camp that she was not looking too far into the future.

She was first called up by the USWNT in April, before Hayes officially arrived on the sideline.

Crystal Dunn, who scored the opening goal against South Korea and played forward for the Americans for the first time in almost seven years, lauded the "even-keeled" Yohannes for scoring the "smoothest first goal I've ever seen."

U.S. midfielder Rose Lavelle, who appeared in her 100th international match on Tuesday, said Yohannes has a high ceiling.

"Oh my God, she's like the most mature 16-year-old I've ever met," Lavelle said. "I feel like she's more mature than me, honestly."

Hayes said Tuesday that Yohannes can get out of pressure smoothly with well-weighted passes in midfield.

"She is a natural footballer that is confident in her abilities," Hayes said. "I think playing in Europe has helped, has accelerated [her].

"She's had exposures that many American 16-year-olds have not had, and it shows. There was a maturity to it even at a tender age. She manages it. It's her second camp, and there's already been a step up from the first to the second. I want to celebrate her first cap. It's a really special moment for her and her family."