The United States did not look like the overwhelming favorites to come out of Group C — at least in the early going of their opening round match against North Korea. Instead, the U.S. Women’s National Team came out even against the North Korean squad for the first 53 minutes of play in today’s opening contest for both in the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
It took several minutes for the U.S. to look sharp against North Korea in a match that should have been uneven from the start. Perhaps it was fatigue or mental issues, but the offense was sluggish, chances were wasted and kicks toward the goal were too lofty, easily brought down by the opposing goalkeeper, Hong Myong Hui.
Finally, Lauren Cheney broke through at 54’ to score the first goal after having a great chance at 11’ earlier in the first half. Twenty-two minutes after that, Rachel Buehler scored the Americans’ second goal to take a stronger lead that ultimately became the final score — a nice shutout victory that was a bit closer than what the final score might lead you to believe.
Up next for the U.S. is Columbia on Saturday while North Korea takes on Sweden on the same day. The U.S. is now tied atop Group C with Sweden, the two predicted winners.