Digital Headbutt

A sports blog about stuff…stuff that involves things.

USA vs. North Korea Live Blog: 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Posted by Mike on September 11, 2007

It’s 5:00 am on the East Coast, and team USA’s campaign in the Women’s World Cup is about to begin against North Korea. I alluded to this matchup a few months ago, when I thought it was a mistake to play a major political rival on this day; on the contrary, Abby Wambach said that she is honored to wear their country’s uniform today. I can agree with that.

Three of the top five teams in world are in Group B, and two are playing in this game (Sweden is the other). This should be a great first game for both teams in the group of death.

5:07 am, 8th minute: USA goalkeeper Hope Solo has been tested early. North Korea has taken at least 3 shots, but Solo has had a fairly easy time fielding the shots.

One of the North Korea players, Ho Sun Hui, is injured.

5:10, 11th minute: The Korean fans in the stands are cheering a lot louder than the American fans.

One of the big tests for our team will be endurance. More specifically, whether they can overcome playing in China’s highly polluted air.

5:11, 12th minute: Team USA gets the first free kick in the game. They go for the direct goal, but the shot is a bit too high. Goal kick for North Korea.

5:15, 16th minute: The Americans are running a 4-3-3 formation, with Lilly and Wambach at strikers.

5:16, 17th minute: Ho Sun Hui is still on the sidelines for Korea. I’m surprised that team USA has not even threatened to score for most of the time they’ve essentially been a man up.

5:18, 19th minute: Did I hear that right? Do the Koreans a 15 year old, 6′ 5″ player? Insane.

5:19, 20th minute: Team USA get their first real shot on goal. Heather O’Reilly takes the shot, but the keeper is there to make the save.

5:20, 21st minute: Ho is too injured to continue, and she’s substituted. After 20 minutes, it’s raining cats and dogs.

5:22, 23rd minute: North Korea stops a shot, but the ball goes out of bounds to set up a corner kick. A great corner, but Wamabch’s header goes wide.

5:25, 26th minute: North Korea very nearly scores on a huge strike from outside the box. If the ball goes six inches to the left or if it deflects off of a defender, than it’s a goal. The American defense need to be a bit more aggressive and not leave those shots open.

5:29, 30th minute: Half an hour has elapsed, and neither team has been able to dictate pace. North Korea has been playing a little better than team USA; they’ve been playing great defense, and they’ve been taking good shots on offense. If the Americans aren’t careful, they might lose this game.

5:35, 36th minute: USA gets a free kick and a corner kick, but are unable to get a good shot out of either.

Even North Korean fans know how to do “the wave”.

5:37, 38th minute: Kristine Lilly finally gets a good shot for team USa, but the goalkeeper is there once again to make the stop. It looks like the Amerians are finally starting to dictate the game pace now, gaining a bit of momentum.

5:40, 41st minute: OH! Wambach with a great header off of the corner kick, but it bounces off the crossbar within a inch or two of getting in. Lilly is barely unable to get to the open rebound.

It’s good to see team USA getting some chances now, but I’ve been shocked at how well the North Koreans are playing.

5:44, 45th minute: Kristy Rampone is yellow carded for a late tackle in midfield. She was definitely late, but was the contact cardworthy? I’m not entirely sure.

Two minutes of stoppage time.

5:47, halftime: The first half is over, and North Korea has played very impressively in keeping USA to a 0-0 tie. If they want to win, the #1 team in the world needs to start playing like it.

6:02 am, 46th minute: The second half is starting, as USA gets the ball to begin the half. Wambach makes a nice cross, but it looks like no one was proactively going for the jump ball. That’s been the big problem, I think: I’ve seen too many American players standing around at times.

6:06 am, 50th minute: GOAL! Kristine Lilly makes a nice run, drawing in the defense just outside the box. Then she dumps it off to a wide open Wamabch, who takes a shot so powerful that the Korean kepper gets a hand on it and it still goes into the net. USA leads, 1-0 on a great play by Lilly and Wambach.

6:10 am, 54th minute: Kristine Lilly gets a free kick from just outside the box. A great kick over the wall, but it’s just wide left of the net.

6:11, 55th minute: North Korea gets a great corner kick opportunity, and after a huge frenzy for the ball, Hope Solo grabs the save just before a Korean can take a shot.

Abby Wambach took a bad hit in that scrum, and she has a few bad cuts on her head. Since, Wambach isn’t leaving the game unless absolutely necessary, so the game will be 11-on-10 for at least the near future.

6:15, 59th minute: GOAL! A great goal by Son Hui Kil, but Hope Solo absolutely should have had that ball. The save was in her hands and it slipped away. Yes, the ball is very wet and very slippery, but she should have adjusted accordingly.

The Koreans are really stepping up in this game.

6:18, 62nd minute: GOAL! USA’s clearing attempt goes directly to a North Korean player in the box, who takes the open shot. Solo didn’t stand a chance on that one. North Korea leads, 2-1, and Wambach is somehow still on the bench. The Americans need an 11th player on the field now, whether it’s Wambach or a sub.

6:21, 65th minute: Wambach is officially coming back onto the field.

USA is trailing for the first time in 10 months, when they were trailing against Denmark. North Korea has been truly impressive.

6:23, 67th minute: With 25 minutes left to score, the Americans need to start getting aggressive. Maybe they also need a sub on defense; their back line has been less than impressive.

6:25, 69th minute: GOAL! Korea turns it over in the box, and Heather O’Reilly is right there to cash in with a right-footed kick to the top right corner. USA has tied the game, 2-2 and regained momentum. What an exciting second half., and we still have over 20 minutes remaining.

6:29, 72nd minute: After the corner kick by Korea, team USA just…can’t…clear the ball. North Korea has managed to maintain possession for much of this game.

6:32, 75th minute: since the O’Reilly equalizer, North Korea has gooten a lot of chances to retake the lead, while the Americans have had almost none. I can;t help but wonder why USA have been on their heels in the last few minutes. Do they need to bring in some fresh legs in the midfield or the backline?

6:35, 79th minute: some good defense this time from team USA, but they need to prevent the Koreans from getting these second and third chances. Eventually it will cost them a game. Maybe not this game, but at some point in this tournament.

6:39, 83rd minute: Less than ten minutes to go. Will one of these teams step up for the deciding goal, or will North Korea be content to play for a tie?

6:40, 84th minute: Apparently not; the Koreans are still attacking the box.

Julie Foudy was talking about the endurance that USA has over other teams. Might China’s pollution cancel out any endurance advantage they have over this very fit North Korean team?

6:43, 87th minute: A North Korean player is down, and she has to be taken off the field. A strange phenomenon here: North Korea has made three substitutions, and they have all been for the same player.

6:45, 89th minute: USA wants a call in the box, but they aren’t going to get it.

6:47, 90th minute: So are the Americans going to start getting aggressive or what?

Four minutes of extra time.

6:49, 92nd minute: I have one big question for Greg Ryan: why did he wait until stoppage time to make a substitution?

6:50, 94th minute: In the final minute of stoppage time, Hope Solo makes not one but two great save to keep the game at 2-2.

6:51, Full Time: The game is over, and USA and North Korea end with a 2-2 tie. A bit of a disappointing finish for team USA, but otherwise a great game to watch, especially in the second half. North Korea really came to play, and you know what? Not once did I think about international politics during the game. I did not see the nation of North Korea in those uniforms; I only saw a great team who played valiantly against the best team in the world. That isn’t to say that the Americans didn’t make some tactical mistakes. The midfield didn’t do a good job of clearing balls for their defense, allowing North Korea to hold the ball for most of the game. Greg Ryan only putting in one sub for two minutes was also questionable. But both teams gave a good effort, and this game will definitely throw a monkey wrench into group B.

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