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U.S. women hold off North Korea, sweep Olympic group games for first time

Wambach (Reuters Pictures)

North Korea did not make it easy on the U.S. women's national team, but the Americans are through to the knockout round of the Olympic tournament with nine points in hand for the first time ever.

Abby Wambach's 141st-career international goal was all the United States needed to handle a determined North Korea side 1-0 at Old Trafford and finish off the group stage with a 3-0-0 record. Wambach was the recipient of a slip pass from Alex Morgan, who had gotten behind the defense to track down a ball over the top and held it up before spotting Wamabch streaking down the center of the area unmarked in the 25th minute.

Morgan and Wambach each had chances hit the post, and Heather O'Reilly and substitute Tobin Heath also came within inches of scoring, but the U.S. defense and goalkeeper Hope Solo made Wambach's goal hold up, extending their shutout streak to 256 minutes after giving up two goals to France in the opening 14 minutes of the tournament.

The U.S. women will face either Canada or New Zealand in Friday's quarterfinal match depending on the outcome of New Zealand's battle with Cameroon Tuesday afternoon.

What did you think of the match? Do you think Pia Sundhage should have rested more starters with the quarterfinals in mind? Do you think the U.S. women will have a problem with either potential opponent in the quarterfinals?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I think your analysis is myopic…your evaluation of Wambach is simply wrong, although she is the best player in the area in the world, but she does WAY more than that

    to say Rapinoe is the only creative player also reveals your perspective as shallow. Morgan is not creative? Cheney? and what about O’Reilly? she creates havoc with traditional wing play, a lost art and one today’s generation does not appreciate

    there are some facts for you to include in your analysis going froward if you’re looking to be accurate that is

  2. Don’t get me wrong. Wambach has made great contributions to the USWNT but she’s not the most valuable member of the team. But what I really hate is when people Pia Sundhage is a great coach. Really? You have to play a long tournament in a short period of time. You’ve already qualified for the knock out stages and face probably the weakest team in the group, which your reserves should be able to handle. So what do you do? Play the same starters who have already played in all the other matches. Genius! Better yet, you’re beating France 4-2 with maybe 10-15 minutes left in the game. Do you try to slow down the game, bunker down and conserve your strength? No! You go for that extremely valuable 5th goal. You substitute in a fresh but ineffective forward (Amy Rodriguez) for your best forward (Alex Morgan). Then, in a true bit of genius, you bring in a forward (Leroux) for a midfielder (Rapinoe). The team presses for the goal like it’s life or death, allowing France to mount 2-3 very dangerous looking counterattaks late in the match. Honestly, you could go on and on. Player for player, Japan should not be able to consistently beat the US but they’re simply be better coached and have Pia figured out.

  3. I love the USWNT but hate how they are never held up to a critical light like teams on the mne’s side are. Megan Rapinoe is one of my favorite players — she’s practically the USWNT’s only creative playmaker a la Xavier or Iniesta — but let’s be honest, she had an off night. She got caught in possession and turned over the ball a lot. When Rapinoe has an off night, the US is less dangerous and we end up holding on 1-0 against a team that the French routed in the last match. Abby Wambach is a valuable member of the team but she’s a one trick pony. You get her in the box, pass the ball to her and she uses her strength and height to power the ball in. She isn’t particularly fast or technically skilled. If the roles were reversed, it’s doubtful she gets the ball to Morgan. This was r rally exposed in the France match where she was surrounded by more technical players (Rapinoe, Heath, Cheney and Morgan) and killed a number of promising plays with her inability to handle defenders 1 v 1 or pass.

  4. When Rapinoe is playing there seemed to be more action and attacking play. She seems to get better every game. I love watching “Blondie”. I think Pia is a great coach. Smart to rest Rapinoe. I love the way she just sits back and watchs her players without screaming on the sidelines.

  5. O’Reilly looked fresh, put in some great energy minutes out there, wouldn’t be surprised to see her stick in the starting 11. Another good one from the injury replacement Lloyd too.

    Good to see Rapinoe subbed early to keep her fresher. Cheney got hammered today all game; teams know she’s an engine in there and target her hard; need her fit and doing it the rest of the way

    some possession down the stretch seemed to be there to be taken but not taken, understanding it’s not necessarily Team USA’s thing. we’ll see if that patient aggressive kind of game with possession becomes a part of this team, with a lead, or if they keep surging forward looking to score. Pia talks about it with this team

    this is a heck of a team she’s put together, really pulling for them

    GO USA!!!

  6. Business-like performance for the Yanks, in my opinion. They got their goal, largely controlled the game, dealt with the NK pressure when it came. Good stuff.


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