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International friendlies

Easy Does it: USWNT Defeats South Korea 4-1

Abby Wambach scored her 156th career goal while Kristie Mewis tallied her first in the United States’ win over South Korea. Maura Gladys has highlights, analysis, and what it all means.
BY Maura Gladys Posted
June 16, 2013
7:52 PM
It was tougher than expected, but the U.S. women’s national team defeated South Korea 4-1 in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday night. The U.S. jumped out to an early lead when Kristie Mewis scored her first goal for the Americans in the 3rd minute, and Lauren Cheney doubled the lead four minutes later. But South Korea struck back in the 26th minute when Cho Sohyun buried a low shot to the corner. South Korea threatened to equalize early in the second half, but Carli Lloyd put the game out of reach in the 57th minute when she struck a low, booming shot from long-range. The U.S. put a bow on the match when Alex Morgan drew a penalty in stoppage time, allowing Abby Wambach to covert the PK and add to her goal tally. Wambach now sits on 156 career goals, just two shy of Mia Hamm’s all-time record. The most notable thing about the match, besides Wambach’s goal, was Tom Sermanni’s decision to play several players out of position, and the overall effectiveness of those moves.

He started Christie Rampone, the team’s defensive general, at right back, a position she hasn’t played in years. But Rampone was game, making several runs up the wing, sending in good crosses, and getting a couple shots on goal.

Sermanni has also been trying to install a strong defensive midfield position in his lineup, and he slotted Carli Lloyd in that spot for this game. She much prefers an attacking position where she can get up field and use her powerful shot from just outside the box, but the switch paid off on Saturday. Lloyd hung back at the right times, but her instincts propelled her forward when needed, including in the 57th minute when she sent a brilliant low shot into the goal. Mewis, a natural midfielder has played mostly defense for the Americans. But similar to Lloyd, playing back allows her to push up and use her attacking instincts to find the net. It paid off against South Korea when she was up field, in the right place at the right time to score her first career goal.

Sermanni is building on what Pia Sundhage started with Kelley O’Hara. By converting attacking and midfield players to defense, the U.S. team is a squad of hungry, attacking players itching to rush forward, but with the speed to race back. It’s a semi-risky move, leaving the U.S. particularly vulnerable to counter attacks. But if executed correctly could lead to an unthinkable amount of goals.

Quick kicks
  • Hope Solo made her first appearance for the U.S. since February, after rehabbing from injury. Solo replaced Nicole Barnhart at half time, and was forced to make only two saves. But they were big ones. At the start of the second half, South Korea quickly countered the United States wave of attack, and put a shot on Solo’s goal. But Solo put a hand on it and the ball trickled wide. Then in the 83rd minute, South Korea split the seams of the U.S. defense and had a breakaway that Solo defended. The saves weren’t the most difficult to make, but were enough to indicate Solo is back and ready to play.

  • It wasn’t the best game for Alex Morgan. She missed a couple early shots in the first half and passed away several balls she could have shot during the second half. Morgan might have been pass-happy in order to try and spring Wambach for a goal. But she ended up assisting in a different way when she won a penalty kick in stoppage time that Wambach buried. It speaks to Morgan’s overall quality when games that she doesn’t score or assist are an anomaly.

  • It’s always fun to see a young player get their first goal or cap. Kristie Mewis scored her first goal for the USNWT while Morgan Brien made her first appearance for the Stars and Stripes. Mewis pounced on a deflected ball in front of an open net in the second minute to give the U.S. the very early lead. It was extra special for Mewis, a Boston native, who scored in front of her hometown crowd and was assisted by her close friend Sydney Leroux.
  • Morgan Brien made her debut in the 77th minute when she subbed on for Lauren Cheney. The grin that Brien flashed as she jogged onto the field is a reminder that it’s a privilege to witness the exact moment that a new U.S. career begins.

    Maura Gladys, a featured ASN columnist, works in production for KICKTV. She also runs the goalkeeping blog All You Need Is Glove.

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