Tuesday, September 11, 2007

USA Ties North Korea In World Cup Opener

Post-game analysis from du Nord reader Adam on the USA v North Korea match.

Group Stage Match 1:
USA 2-2 North Korea

Right from the first whistle in today’s US-North Korea match, both teams played at a frenetic pace that made yesterday’s 11-0 snoozer between Germany and Argentina look like a high school game.

A confident North Korean side, who finally lived up to pre-tournament hype that they are a contender to take the crown, kept the United States under constant pressure with their penetrating passing sequences and dangerous long-range attempts on goal. Though the US edged the Koreans in shots, 21 to 18, it was Korea who held possession for much of the match and dictated the speed of play.

The US, playing in a 4-3-3 formation, clearly lacked strength in the middle of the park. Midfielders Lori Chaulpny, Carli Lloyd, and Shannon Boxx struggled to connect with the US forwards all game long. The American’s best chance to score in the first half came in the 40th minute when Abby Wambach headed a corner kick off the underside of the crossbar. North Korea quickly cleared the ball before Heather O’Reilly could poke it over the goal line.

Five minutes after half time, it appeared the tide was beginning to turn in the USA’s favor. Kristine Lilly found Wambach open at the top of the Korean box. Wambach took a touch and fired a shot that slipped through the hands of goalkeeper Jon Myong-hui.

But the US lead was short lived. After a head-to-head collision caused a bloodied Wambach to leave the field for treatment, North Korea took advantage of being a player up on the Americans. In the 58th minute, Kil Sun-hui found a bit of space at the top of the US box and fired a shot on goal. The ball, slick with rain, slipped through Solo’s hands and into the back of the net. And, 4 minutes later, North Korea’s Kim Yong-ae scored from close range to make it 2-1 after a scramble in front of the US goal.

Wambach finally returned to the field with the wound on the back of her stitched shut. At full strength again, each team continued to attack the other. In the 69th minute, Heather O’Reilly tied the game at 2 apiece, redirecting a poor clearance into the roof of the Korean goal.

In this end-to-end match, Solo was the USA’s best player. Even though she made a dreadful mistake, allowing the ball to slip through her fingers on Korea’s first goal, she still had other great saves, including one on a rocket in stoppage time that looked destined for goal. And credit the US backline: Christie Rampone, Kate Markgraf, Cat Whitehill, and Stephanie Lopez. For much of the game, they were able to absorb North Korea’s attack and keep them from getting opportunities inside the US penalty box.

To the Americans, anything other than a win is a loss. They’ll be itching to erase their performance in the North Korea game with a better effort against Sweden on Friday.

In the other group match, Nigeria pulled off a little upset of their own, pulling a late goal back to tie Sweden 1-1. With both games ending in draws, all four teams in group B are even with one point each.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here is a match report and some post-game quotes from coach Greg Ryan and US players.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

US Soccer also has game photos.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And the ever popular Studio 90 is in China with the USA team producing periodic video stories. Always worth watching.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Read the USA Women's team blog.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

FIFA has match reports, video highlights and much more.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The other two USA group stage matches are:
-Fri Sep 14 v Sweden - 4am central time on ESPN.
-Tue Sep 18 v Nigeria - 7am central time on ESPN.


Blogger mamacita chilena said...

Thanks so much for this. Keep the great info and analysis coming!

I'm dying not being able to watch these games!!!

12:57 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts