Tuesday, July 31, 2012

USWNT vs North Korea: Match Diary

Article by Leanne Elston

Against Colombia, the USWNT put in a convincing performance, winning 3-0 with goals from Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach, and Carli Lloyd. Rapinoe’s goal in the 33rd minute was a beautiful curling shot from outside the box. Tobin Heath slipped a pass through to Wambach at close range in the 74th minute to give the forward her 140th career goal. And in the 77th minute, Carli Lloyd coolly slotted her shot past the keeper after some great build-up play in the midfield.

Also of note in that game: in the 39th minute, Lady Andrade of Colombia essentially sucker punched Abby Wambach, who tweeted this picture after the match. FIFA gave Andrade a two-game suspension for the play.

With the win, the USWNT advanced to the quarterfinals of this tournament. They faced North Korea today in their last group game and came away with a 1-0 win courtesy of (surprise!) Abby Wambach. Here’s how it played out.

Pre-game -- I don’t get why the NBC Sports Network isn’t showing me the anthems before these games. I love anthems! Don’t they know that? Anyway, the only line-up change for this one is Amy LePeilbet back in for Heather Mitts, who started against Colombia. Also, Grant Wahl tweeted that Arlo White passed on dinner last night to work on getting the North Koreans’ names right, which is pretty awesome. I have no idea if he’s pronouncing them correctly, but I appreciate his effort because I sort of constantly complain about announcers’ pronunciations.

5th minute -- The US have already had some opportunities on goal here. Alex Morgan just took a great shot that the keeper saved. Megan Rapinoe earlier made a wonderful run down the left side and her shot ended in a corner.

8th minute -- Abby Wambach and her bicycle kick put the ball in the net, but she was offside. Bummer, because that would’ve been pretty sweet.

15th minute -- A quick attack leads to Morgan taking a shot at goal, but the ball hits the post. That was a close one. Wambach would have had the assist; Arlo White points out how great the understanding between Wambach and Morgan is, and he’s right, of course. Gone are the days when for some reason Pia Sundhage thought they couldn’t start together.

19th minute -- This match is in Manchester, which Arlo White tells us in the north of England. I wonder how many American Manchester United fans actually know where Manchester is? I’m not judging; I’m just wondering (well, ok, I might be judging a little). By the way -- there are definitely more people in the stands for this game than there were for the previous two games in Glasgow. You can hear the crowd on television, which is great.

25th minute -- GOAL. USA 1-0 North Korea. Alex Morgan received a long pass in the box but didn’t have the shot; she did well to get the ball to Abby Wambach, who slotted it home. Yeah, they play well together. The goal celebration is awesome too, by the way.

34th minute -- The US earns its sixth corner of the game; North Korea has had none. This one goes out again for corner number seven. As you can probably imagine, Hope Solo hasn’t had a ton to do so far in this game.

39th minute -- Abby Wambach runs right onto a ball in the box but her shot hits the post. The ball actually bounces off the goalkeeper and Heather O’Reilly comes crashing in but only gets side netting. Both the keeper and O’Reilly quite literally eat some dirt (well, mud, probably, because it’s raining).

46th minute -- The ball for these games is ugly, by the way. It has, like, pink triangles on it. I guess it matches Alex Morgan’s headband, though.

Halftime -- USA 1-0 North Korea. Like the Colombia game, this one doesn’t really feel like 1-0. Darn that post. There’s one change for the US to start the second half. Tobin Heath is in for Megan Rapinoe. I like Heath, but I’m still sadfacing a little because I adore Rapinoe (I mean, who doesn’t?). The substitution does make sense, though; we’ll want all we can get out of Rapinoe in the game(s) to come.

49th minute -- Tobin Heath has a perfect opportunity but she chips it over the goal. Some great passing to set that one up. Pretty soon here you gotta hope the US starts finishing some of these chances. 1-0 against North Korea would be a little disappointing.

61st minute -- The camera shows us Rio Ferdinand and Chicharito of Manchester United in the stands. Meanwhile on the pitch, the US is doing everything except scoring.

69th minute -- Sigh. Look, this is women’s soccer, but that doesn’t mean I need a female commentator. I just want someone who’s good, simple as that. Brandi Chastain isn’t good. Maybe if you want to put her in a studio for halftime or post-game analysis, fine, but I’d prefer not to listen to her for 90 minutes. At least there are only twenty minutes left now.

75th minute -- Rachel Buehler is off and Becky Sauerbrunn is on. It’s Sauerbrunn’s first appearance in this tournament.

79th minute -- DirecTV just tested its emergency alert system and took away my picture. Not amused. Don’t they know I’m watching the USWNT right now?

81st minute -- It’s a second yellow and red card for Choe Mi Gyong so North Korea will be down to ten for the remainder of the game. Her first yellow was for a challenge on Carli Lloyd; this one is for a tackle from behind on Lauren Cheney.

84th minute -- Amy Rodriguez and her sweet braids come on for Lauren Cheney for the final US substitution of the game.

Full time -- USA 1-0 North Korea. The US wins but it’s a bit disappointing given the opponent. In any case, the US was already through to the quarters, where they will face New Zealand. That game will be August 3rd at 9:30 AM ET on the NBC Sports Network.


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