Abby Wambach scored her 141st career goal off a brilliantly threaded pass from Alex Morgan and the United States entered the quarterfinals having earned a full nine points in the group stages after a 1-0 victory over North Korea.
There wasn’t much in the way of challenge for the United States, despite the game once again looking physical in the early moments. The pace slowed down considerably for large sections of the game, with North Korea seemingly content to stay in their half and attempt to shut down the United States’s offensive game. While there were many chances for a second goal, North Korea was at least successful in holding the US to a narrow lead, even after they lost Mi Gyong Choe to a double booking from a hard tackle on Lauren Cheney.
The US dominated possession and certainly had the advantage in shots on goal and corner kicks. North Korea didn’t have much in the way of chances until the second half, and none truly tested the defense or Hope Solo. They ended the match with only one shot on goal.
While the pace of game might have been slower and the scoreline was not as lopsided as expected, the US Women’s National Team looked collected and in sync for most of the match. Megan Rapinoe had an excellent first half before being rested by Pia Sundhage, replaced by Tobin Heath. Heather O’Reilly had a solid game on the other wing, including a near miss at the end of the first half that was blocked by PRK keeper Chang Ran O and ended in a high-speed collision for both players. O’Reilly also had some notable defensive efforts, frequently sprinting 30 or 40 yards to catch up to the play and intercepting passes. Kelley O’Hara impressed yet again with her involvement on both sides of the field, missing a chance just over the bar to finally make it 2-0 in the closing moments of the game. Becky Sauerbrunn was a good late-game substitute who provided stability in the back line to weather the few North Korea chances.
The United States will either face Canada or New Zealand in the quarterfinals, depending on the results of the New Zealand – Cameroon match. Either match favors the United States, but Canada’s draw with Sweden gives them good momentum heading into the quarterfinals.
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