USWNT, South Korea ends scoreless in final World Cup tune-up

post game

By MC Bousquette
USWNT Beat Writer

In their last match before the Women’s World Cup begins, the USWNT tied Korea Republic 0-0 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.

Although the USWNT outmatched Korea in front of the sold-out crowd of 26,467, the ultimate result belies a cautious USWNT against a Korean squad looking for a tie.

With Alex Morgan sitting out while the bone bruise on her knee heals, Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux started up top. At midfield Coach Jill Ellis started Christen Press, Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday, and Morgan Brian. The back line of Meghan Klingenberg, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Johnston, and Ali Krieger remained the same as in prior matches.  Midfielder Megan Rapinoe was out as a precaution for the match with a reported minor thigh injury.

The USWNT had no shortage of opportunity in the final third, yet were unable to convert again and again. Korea had their share of chances, though their primary mode of play was a defensive one. The US ultimately appeared to be a tired side, wary of potential injuries.

The match opened with a brief but weak challenge from Korea, immediately followed by a push forward from the United States.  Krieger began the attempt with a cross in, aided by Morgan Brian and redoubled by Heath, but were stopped by the Korean defense. In the 4th minute, a penalty was called on Brian, giving Korea a free kick from thirty yards out. The dangerous cross was slowed by the US defense, and as Korea repossessed the ball in an attempt to reset, Holiday sent the ball far from danger.

Leroux broke free in the 6th minute, sending the ball across to Press, who shot from the top of the box, but missed left of goal. Leroux charged again the 7th minute, but was called offsides before the US could become dangerous. A minute later, Lloyd began a move into the box, but Wambach was beaten to the ball by Korean goalkeeper Kim Jungmi, and the US was forced to reset back in the midfield. Returning with a vengeance, Lloyd shot a bullet toward goal in the 9th minute from far outside of the box, but cleared the crossbar by a significant margin.

The US attempts kept coming, as a mishit from Krieger in the 12th, intended to be a serve for Leroux, ended right in Jungmi’s hands. Lloyd attempted again a couple of minutes later, but met the Korean wall instead of the net.

In the 19th, the US was granted a corner as Leroux’s charge into the box was stopped. Brian took the corner to Klingenberg, who chipped the ball over Korea’s defense to no avail. Klingenberg tried again the 22nd, but lost a battle on the Korean end line and turned the ball over.

Johnston, who was characteristically up and down the field throughout the match, built momentum in the 24th minute, charging forward and sending the ball laterally to Heath. Heath completed the connection with Lloyd, who fed the ball in to Brian, who was unable to take a solid shot.

Lloyd returned yet again in the 26th with line drive from the top of the box, this time missing the Korean goal just to the right. Shortly thereafter, Lloyd beat Korea’s defense on a play beginning with a Wambach nutmeg, dribbling deep toward the goal and connecting with Leroux who missed the open goal opportunity just left of the goalpost. This scenario repeated itself several minutes later, as Lloyd charged and fed to Leroux. Leroux mishandled the ball, but Klingenberg recovered it with a cross grabbed out of the air by Jungmi. Another push from Lloyd in the 32nd ended in a controversial foul before she could take the shot.

A sharp shot from Klingenberg in the 36th crossed the goal, reaching Abby Wambach, who subsequently missed the header connection as the ball flew out of bound.

The next significant effort came in the 40th minute, as Lloyd attacked rapidly, dishing the ball to Leroux who nearly missed the connection, sliding in for a shot that barely missed, hitting the left side of the net.

Ji Soyun, a Chelsea Ladies midfielder, led several dangerous but unsuccessful Korean charges into the US final third, providing Korea with a surprisingly aggressive first half as the US faltered. The score remained 0-0 as the first half ended.

As the second half began, Carli Lloyd continued to be a major theme of the match. She came in strong again, sending the ball to Leroux in the 50th minute, whose solid shot was blocked by Jungmi. Brian recovered the ball, driving back into the box and crossing to Press whose header was saved by Jungmi. A relatively quiet Krieger followed with a shot from the top of the box, missing low and to the left of the Korean goal.

Ellis retooled her side in the 60th. Christie Rampone came on for Julie Johnston, Abby Wambach was replaced by Amy Rodriguez, and Tobin Heath entered for Lauren Holiday.

The substitutions proved fruitful as Leroux made another run immediately after the move, beating several defenders before shooting, only to face another strong Junmi save.

The US continued to press for the remainder of the match, but nothing connected to break the deadlock. Even with three minutes of stoppage time, the US could not convert in the final third. The most dangerous attempt came from Korea in the 93rd minute, although a dynamic save from Solo salvaged the 0-0 status.

A draw against Korea was not what the USWNT was looking for in this send-off match. The squad needs to take the next eight days to rest and prepare for the Group of Death in Canada.

“I know where we are, what this means,” Wambach said. “All of our preliminary games leading up to world championships likely turn out this way. Everybody’s a little bit nervous, people don’t want to get injured.”

As for the match itself? “To be honest it was a boring game,” she said.

The USWNT kicks off World Cup play against Australia on Monday, June 8th at 7:30pm EST in Winnipeg (Fox Sports 1).

  • Kevin

    First time ever at Red Bull Arena.. Crowd was awesome,stadium was great, but the parking was an absolute nightmare.

    • Kevin i will show you where to park next time. :)

      • slowleftarm

        RBA is tough for the inexperienced. Once you know where to go, when to allocate extra time, etc. it isn’t too bad. I recently started parking in Newark if I’m not tailgating and, despite the extra walk, it’s still faster than parking in Harrison.