This afternoon the US Women’s National Soccer team had a match against North Korea, or politically correct the Democratic Republic of Korea. This match was at my favorite stadium that I’ve never visited, Manchester United’s Old Trafford. This was a match where the only thing that mattered to the United States was seeding in the quarterfinals, while to North Korea a draw would have been good enough for them to advance. The United States had other ideas though.
I’ll be honest with you, this wasn’t that amazing of a match. Sure the United States played well, but they also played like a team that was okay with just surviving the match without any serious injuries or any bookings that could have led to a suspension. Alex Morgan had the United States best chance in the early going as she hit the post from 18 yards out in the 15th minute, but then play was mostly in the midfield with neither team taking too many chances that could have jeopardized the score.
In the 25th minute, the game changed, as Abby Wambach scored her 141st international goal, and the 50th goal in the history of United States’ women’s soccer. As Alex Morgan collected a cross inside the 18 yard box and slipped it through to Wambach at the top of the Korean’s 6 yard box, Wambach did exactly what the whole world expected her to when she put a clinical finish into the back of the net. That milestone goal is the most that any country has scored in Olympic competition, as Brazil sits in second place 4 goals behind the Americans in that category. Wambach has now scored in each of the United States’ games so far this Olympics as well, and I would expect that streak to continue because she is that good of a player.
The rest of the half played in to Team USA’s favor, as they had 8 corner kicks in the first half to Korea’s zero. They also had 12 shots total in the first 45 minutes, with five of those on frame, while Korea had one shot and none on goal in that same span.
The second half wasn’t too much better for the Koreans. Needing at least a draw to advance to the quarterfinals, they didn’t help their cause out by going down a woman in the 81st minute when Choe Mi Gyong picked up her second yellow card and an ejection. In the second half of today’s match the Koreans were only able to muster one shot on goal (a weak one at that), and Team USA went on to win by the 1-0 score. Since the opening 18 minutes of this tournament Team USA now has 8 unanswered goals, and in doing so they swept the group stage for the first time in their history.
Abby Wambach and her crew will face New Zealand on Friday morning (9:30 EST) in their quarterfinal match. This is another match that the USA should be able to handle with no problem, but we’re now in the knockout stage where it’s win or go home. New Zealand got through their group with just one win, and it would be a miracle for them to pull off the upset on Friday, but there’s a reason we watch the games.
Good luck, Team USA.