PHOTOS OF MATCH COMING SOON!
In the final sendoff game before the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the United States Women’s National Team played to a scoreless match against the Republic of Korea at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
While the U.S. had more offensive action than their opponents, they could not find a rhythm during the game and failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities. The lack of flow and limited touches for forwards are worrisome problems with their first match in the 2015 World Cup in just nine days.
The U.S. got near the goal a few minutes into the game, with midfielder Christen Press taking a long shot that went wide followed a few minutes later by a cross from Press to forward Sydney Leroux that she could not convert to a shot.
In the fifteenth minute, South Korea’s Park Heeyoung went down after a hard defensive play by U.S. defender Ali Krieger and would exit the game, later reports indicating a dislocated shoulder. It was the only serious injury of the game, though the Koreans did have a few other scares. U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd received a yellow card in 56th minute for a push around midfield, and the Koreans did not commit a foul until the 75th minute.
It seemed the United States might be developing momentum in the middle of the first half, and Lloyd was in the middle of all of it. It began with her wide shot off the dribble from the top of the box. Soon after, in the 27th minute, some tight give-and-gos got Lloyd the ball near the post, and she chipped it back to the middle of the box right to Leroux, who was unable to get an accurate shot off. With more crisp passing, Lloyd received the ball again in the box, but her aggressiveness led to a foul and the U.S. turned the ball over without scoring.
Seasoned forward Abby Wambach had her best chance of the game when Meghan Klingenberg sent a ball deep across the goal, but it was just out of reach as Wambach launched in the air for a header. The U.S. had a couple more chances in the half when Korea Republic tried to pass it back to their keeper with Lloyd sliding in for a weak shot, then when defender Julie Johnston crossed a ball that was easily grabbed by the Korean keeper.
The teams entered the half with no score, eight shots for the U.S. and three for the Republic of Korea. Neither team had any shots on goal, which highlighted the problem the United States was having with creating in the midfield and giving enough touches to Leroux and Wambach at forward.
The U.S. threatened soon after the start of the second half when Lloyd took up the ball and then passed it off to Morgan Brian, who then crossed it in to Leroux. But she wasn’t set up to kick it off the pass, and the shot was not angled enough, saved by Korean keeper Kim Jung Mi.
Korea Republic reciprocated with a deep shot that Solo tapped out of bounds, a weak attempt in a mostly stagnant offensive effort. In the 60th minute the U.S. started subbing, looking for energy and facilitators. Christie Rampone came on for Johnston, Amy Rodriguez took over for Wambach at forward, and Tobin Heath came on for midfielder Lauren Holiday. Soon after, Lori Chalupny came on for Krieger, Heather O’Reilly subbed in for Leroux, and Kelley O’Hara replaced Klingenberg.
The United States had a couple more opportunities on corner kicks and a few runs inside the box, but their passing was inaccurate, many balls going right to the other team, and they seemed to lack communication on positioning. They did not have good ball movement and Korea Republic flooded the back line, making it difficult to find shot openings.
One good element for the U.S. was its defense, as keeper Hope Solo was basically a spectator until a scare during injury time, when Korea Republic took a deep shot from the left side that Solo had to knock out with a diving save.
After failing to come up with a rhythm or get their heralded forwards involved enough, the United States will have to reset before it plays Australia in its opening match of the cup in Group D on June 8th in Winnipeg, Canada. The Republic of Korea will face a tough matchup when they play Group E opponent Brazil on the 9th in Montreal.