As can be expected in the opening match of a tournament for any team, the first half was a little shaky for the USWNT.Â As the number one ranked team in the world, many expected the US to take control early.Â But North Korea had a few good chances in the first half, thanks to some gaps in the US defense.Â The USWNT was not without scoring opportunities of their own, as Lauren Cheney cracked a few on net in the first 45.Â Unfortunately, all of Cheneyâ€™s shots were straight at the goalkeeper.Â At halftime, the scoreboard remained blank.
The widely discussed last-minute change in the starting lineup for the USWNTâ€”Cheney starting instead of Megan Rapinoeâ€”paid off in the second half.Â In her fifth attempt on goal, Cheney finally beat the goalkeeper, heading a cross from Abby Wambach into the back of the net.Â In the 54th minute, Cheney put the US up 1-0 over North Korea.
The USWNT settled into a good rhythm, and continued to dominate for the remainder of the second half.Â Chances on net for North Korea were few and far between. Twenty minutes after breaking open the scoring, the US notched a second goal, this time from a surprising source.Â Defender Rachel Buehler scored her second career goal in the 76th minute, snatching up a rebound at the top of the 18 and placing it in the bottom left corner, past the outstretched arms of goalie Hong Myong Hui.
The USWNT cruised for the final 15 minutes, and brought on two substitutes in an effort to tack on a third goal.Â Alex Morgan came on for Amy Rodriguez, and Morgan Rapinoe for Heather Oâ€™Reilly.Â Rapinoe finished a loose ball in the box in stoppage time, only to have the referee disallow the goal because it appeared that North Korea goalie Hong Myong Hui had a hand on it.Â It was a questionable call, but luckily not one that would cost the US the game.
At the final whistle, the USWNT celebrated their opening 2-0 victory over the young but talented North Korea side.Â The US picks up three crucial points, pulling even with Sweden atop Group C.Â Their next match is July 2nd against FIFA Womenâ€™s World Cup newbie Colombia.
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