Manchester, England (July 31, 2012)-Needing a win or a draw to seal first place in Group G, the U.S. Women responded with a 1-0 victory over Korea DPR in front of a crowd of close to 30,000 people at Old Trafford.
Playing on the historic pitch that normally hosts Manchester United of the English Premier League, the U.S. were able to hold off a hungry North Korean squad that desperately need a draw to stay alive in this Olympic tournament. With rain coming down throughout the game, the U.S. wearing their away blue and white jersey’s did just enough to give them the full three points from the match and give them the best possible position going into the quarterfinals.
The lone goal came in the 25th minute off the foot of Abby Wambach who was able to take a short pass from Alex Morgan and ease it past the North Korean goalie from 8 yards out. For Wambach it was her 141st international goal and her 3rd goal in these Olympics having now scored in each game thus far.
Coach Pia Sundhage sticking with her 4-4-2 formation throughout the game kept Wambach and Morgan as her two forwards with the midfield made up of Heather O’Reilly, Carli Lloyd, Lauren Cheney and Megan Rapinoe. Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler and Kelley O’Hara surrounded Captain Christie Rampone in the backfield. In goal with her second straight shutout was Hope Solo.
The U.S. controlled the ball throughout most of the first half with several shots just missing and with the North Korean team being forced to bring most of their team back to aid their defense. Solo was hardly challenged in the first half nor was the American defense.
The second half brought the substitute of Tobin Heath in for Rapinoe. Heath quickly put her rested legs to good use with a near goal in the first few minutes of the second half. A shot from the left side that she chipped just over the net would have doubled their lead but instead kept the North Koreans in the game as the second half continued.
Solo did make two much needed saves in the final half as the insurance goals that Coach Sundhage was certainly looking for from her U.S. team never materialized. Sundhage did make a few other substitutions in the second half removing Cheney for Amy Rodriguez. Becky Sauerbrunn also saw some playing time when she took Buehler’s spot on the defensive side. Shannon Boxx sat out her second consecutive game with a hamstring injury.
The team now has a few days off before moving on to Newcastle on Friday where they will play their quarterfinal match.