The USWNT opened play in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup with a 2-0 win over Korea DPR. The first half ended scoreless. Both teams played well, with good play from the wings and a few chances for each side. US goalkeeper Hope Solo made some keys saves to keep a clean sheet through the first half. It seemed like the US was a bit tentative to start out. The story was entirely different the second half. The US calmed down, appeared comfortable and composed, and attacked. Lauren Cheney opened scoring in the 54th minute with a nice header to the far post for a 1-0 lead. Follow me after the break for the rest of the action and an interesting but bizarre side story to the match.
Rachel Buehler iced the game in the 76th minute when she put a shot home just inside the post. The ball was caroming around the 18 yard box, and Rachel was able to get a foot on it and boom the shot home past Korea's keeper. The US would add a 3rd goal late, but the score was disallowed as the referee called it off due to a foul on the Korean keeper. Replays would show that the goal should have been allowed. Either way, the result was enough to put the US atop group C, as Sweden defeated Colombia in the other group match.
Overall, it was a very strong second half for the Americans. It was an encouraging first game, especially given the fact that Korea is a good, solid team and a tough draw for the first match. In the end, the US would show they were the better team and why they are one of the favorites to win the World Cup. Hope Solo had a good second half between the stick for the US, and passing and movement in general were better in the 2nd half. The USWNT next plays Colombia on Saturday, July 2nd at 10:30 AM CST. The game can be seen on ESPN and Galavision.
And now, for the bizarre and weird story coming from the match. According to reports, Korean coach Kim Kwang Min blamed the loss to the US on an alleged lightning strike that affected some of the Korean players back on June 8th. I say alleged because it seems like no one knows whether this is true or not. I would agree that a lightning strike could obviously affect athletes, let alone any mortal human, but this story seems a bit far fetched to me. If they are coming up with excuses, it has to be one of the lamest, albeit inventive, excuses I have ever heard. If true, it brings to mind 2 things. One being why they were on the field in the first place during a lightning storm? Any sane person, and pretty much any professional or rec soccer league in the world, suspends or delays play during lightning. So if they were practicing during a storm they were asking for it. The other point is that, if true, the coach should be blaming himself for the loss as much as the lightning. That's like golfing during a lightning storm, you only have yourself to blame if something happens. If he failed to call off practice, he needs to hold himself accountable.
In the end, it just goes to show you that the craziest things happen on a regular basis in the world of soccer.