Sept. 11, 2007
U.S. women settle for disappointing 2-2 draw with North Korea in WWC opener
Chengdu, China -- The United States survived a head injury to Abby Wambach, mediocre play and an inspired effort by North Korea to struggle to a 2-2 draw in its opening Group B match in the Women's World Cup Tuesday night.
|Heather O'Reilly scored the equalizer for the United States in a tough 2-2 draw against North Korea.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The top-ranked Americans, favored to win its third world title, hardly looked like potential champions as it walked out of the stadium with a point after trying to keep afloat in the rain against the fifth-ranked Koreans.
The U.S. continues its tour of the Group of Death against Sweden, the third-ranked team in the world, Friday.
Wambach broke a scoreless tie with her 78th international goal in the 50th minute. Kristine Lilly sent a ball into the box that Wambach rocketed toward the net with his right foot that had her injured big toe. The ball went through the hands of goalkeeper Jon Myong Hui and into the left side of the net.
Wambach, however was forced from the game with a bleeding forehead in the 57th minute after bumping heads with a Korean defender a minute earlier. The Rochester, N.Y. native needed seven minutes to close the cut, forcing the Americans to play a woman down.
They did not respond well, looking lost without their most dangerous goal-scorer.
The North Koreans took advantage of it, scoring twice within a four-minute span to grab a 2-1 lead.
First there was a breakdown in the net as goalkeeper Hope Solo allowed substitute Kil Son Hui's 22-yard shot from the left side to bounce off both her hands and into the net in the 58th minute.
With Korea forcing the issue in the 62nd minute, Kim Yong Ae scored during a scramble in the penalty area as the U.S. failed to clear the ball.
The U.S. took advantage of the Koreans' inability to clear the ball out of the box in the 69th minute as the ball bounced off two players before coming to Heather O'Reilly. The New Brunswick, N.J. product calmly placed an eight-yard shot into the net for a 2-2 deadlock.
The North Koreans took the game to the U.S. in a rainy opening half. They enjoyed the better play of possession, getting to the ball quicker than the Americans and winning more 50-50 balls, thanks in part to their quick pace, high pressure of play.
The youngest team in the tournament, North Korea did not looked fazed or intimidated playing against the top-ranked team in the world.
The U.S., on the other hand, had problems getting the ball to its one-two dangerous punch of Wambach and Lilly during the flow of play.
The Americans' best scoring opportunity early on came in the 41st minute. Stephanie Lopez swung a corner kick into the area that Wambach headed off the crossbar from eight yards.
Except for that play, the U.S. shots wound up eight over or wide left or right of the net with an occasional shot going right into Jon's hands.