June 28, 2011
Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer
DRESDEN, Germany (June 28, 2011) - Lauren Cheney and Rachel Buehler scored second-half goals in their FIFA Women's World Cup debuts as the U.S. Women's National Team defeated Korea DPR 2-0 to open Group C play on a hot evening in eastern Germany.
After a scoreless first half that saw a number of shots on goal from both sides, the U.S. got on the board in the 54th minute when Cheney headed home an Abby Wambach service from the left side, sending it back across the goal and into the lower left corner. The U.S. controlled the majority of the second half and Buehler clinched the game when she finished an opportunistic chance that skipped through traffic in the penalty area before finding the back of the net in the 76th minute. After all was said and done, the USA out-shot North Korea 19-13 and put 12 of those shots on goal.
After one set of first round games, the U.S. sits in first place in Group C after Sweden defeated Colombia in the other group match by a 1-0 score. Group C action resumes with the U.S. facing Colombia at what could be a sold-out Rhein-Neckar Arena in Sinsheim on Saturday, July 2, at 11:30 a.m. ET live on ESPN, ESPN3.com and Galavision. North Korea and Sweden will square off at 7:45 a.m. ET live on ESPN2 from Augsburg.
"It feels great to have been playing the first 45 minutes, make some changes at halftime and come out even stronger than the first half against a very strong team in North Korea," U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage said. "I'm very happy with the way we scored the goals but not only that, the way we played, being so sharp defending. It's a good start to the World Cup."
Sundhage inserted Cheney as a starter on the left side of midfield for the first time in 16 career starts and even before the goal the move paid off with the 24-year-old getting several dangerous opportunities. The first scoring chance of the game came in the 11th minute when the ball found Cheney in a space similar to where she scored during the USA's send-off match against Mexico. This time her right-footed rocket went right into the gloves of North Korea goalkeeper Hong Myong Hui, as did her next three shots on goal.
Cheney's chances, along with a 36th-minute effort from Carli Lloyd, were the best for the U.S. during the first half, while the North Koreans also proved to be dangerous, particularly when attacking the right wing using 18-year-old Kim Su Gyong to trouble the left side of the U.S. defense where Amy LePeilbet proved to be extremely tough to beat.
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who made seven saves overall, had her two most difficult stops come during a 10-minute span in the first half. The first came in the 34th minute when Kim turned the corner around LePeibet and sent in a hard, low cross. Shannon Boxx tracked a runner into the penalty area and stuck a foot out to stop the cross, but it sat nicely for Kim to shoot hard at the near post where Solo dove left to push it around the post.
Nine minutes later, Kim made a similar move to get to the end line where she sent a hard cross that deflected off the inside of LePeilbet's right leg and connected with Jo Yun Mi at the top of the six-yard box. The North Korean playmaker flicked a shot with the outside of her foot that Solo came out to knock down with her body.
The U.S. came out in the second half with a renewed focus and troubled North Korea's defense with some excellent possession soccer that often found the width and then proceeded to bombard Hong's goal. A pair of shots from Cheney along with an over-cooked volley by Boxx and another shot over the crossbar from Wambach all stated the U.S. intentions in the first six minutes of the second half. On the defensive side, with the jitters of their first half of Women's World Cup play out of the way for the three defenders making their tournament debut, the U.S. virtually shut down North Korea.
The U.S. got on the board with Cheney's first Women's World Cup goal and the 15th of her career nine minutes into the half. Lloyd set things up, finding Wambach with a perfect long ball down the left wing that bounced twice before Wambach took a touch forward into the left corner. Known for her goal scoring, Wambach turned provider when she cut the ball back to her right foot before crossing toward the far post. Cheney faded slightly away from the goal as she sent the header back across the goal past the wrong-footed Hong's right arm and into lower left corner. The assist was the 52nd for Wambach.
Immediately North Korea looked to respond with a pair of attacks, the second against the run of play when Ri Ye Gyong hit a hard 25-yard shot that nicked the top of the cross bar to Solo's left. From then on, the U.S. wore down the Koreans mentally and physically with Wambach forcing Hong to make a reaction save on a header that bounced off the crossbar in the 64th minute. Nine minutes later Amy Rodriguez forced another save before giving way to Alex Morgan who made her Women's World Cup debut as a substitute in the 75th minute.
The second U.S. goal came one minute later and sealed the victory. Cheney, assigned to take the U.S. corners as part of her starting role, played in a corner from the left side that sailed high over Shannon Boxx at the back post, but right back Ali Kreiger alertly came forward to collect the loose ball and used her speed to get free toward the end line to play in a hard cross.
Her effort was a little too strong, but perfectly so, as it skimmed off the front of the cross bar and bounced in the area. Buehler got her head on the loose ball and played it in the direction of Lloyd, who held up against pressure from a defender before tapping the ball backward to Buehler who had dropped off to the top of the penalty area. Buehler, who scored her first career goal during the Women's World Cup qualifying tournament last November, netted her second with a low, lunging shot that saw its way past three defenders and the goalkeeper before crossing the line just inside the left post.
Sundhage made her second and final change in the 79th minute as Heather O'Reilly made way for Megan Rapinoe who joined Buehler, Cheney, Kreiger, Morgan, LePeilbet and Rodriguez in making their Women's World Cup debuts.
With six games in the books, the U.S. is the first team to win by a multiple goal margin as the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup is now underway in nine venues across Germany. A full schedule and standings are available on the FIFA Women's World Cup page at www.ussoccer.com.
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 19-Rachel Buehler, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Amy LePeilbet; 9-Heather O'Reilly (15-Megan Rapinoe, 79), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Cheney; 8-Amy Rodriguez (13-Alex Morgan, 75), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 5-Kelley O'Hara, , 14-Stephanie Cox, , 16-Lori Lindsey, 17-Tobin Heath 18-Nicole Barnhart, 21-Jill Loyden
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
PRK: 1-Hong Myong Hui; 3-Ho Un Byol (20-Kwon Song Hwa, 81), 5-Song Jong Sun, 16-Jong Pok Sim, 17-Ri Un Hyang; 8-Kim Su Gyong, 10-Jo Yun Mi, 11-Ri Ye Gyong, 12-Jon Myong Hwa (13-Kim Un Ju, 68); 7-Yun Hyon Hi (6-Paek Sol Hui, 48), 9-Ra Un Sim
Subs not used: 2-Jon Hong Yon, 4-Kim Myong Gum, 14-Kim Chung Sim, 15-Yu Jong Hui, 18-Ri Jin Sim, 19-Choe Mi Gyong, 21-Kim Chol Ok
Head coach: Kim Kwang Min