Photo by Brad Penner/USA Today Sports
By FRANCO PANIZO
HARRISON, N.J. — The U.S. Women’s National Team is off to Canada for the World Cup, but not with the final result that it wanted.
The U.S. was held to a scoreless draw by South Korea on Saturday in the final friendly of its send-off series. The Americans were the better team for large stretches of a match played in front of a sell-out crowd of 26,467 at Red Bull Arena, but were never able to find the breakthrough against an organized and compact South Korea defense.
The result snapped a four-game winning streak for the U.S., which had scored 14 times and conceded just once during that stretch.
The Americans had the bulk of the scoring opportunities, but a lack of sharpness and clinical finishing in the final third left them without a goal for the first time since settling for a scoreless draw with Iceland on March 9.
South Korea’s defense may have done a good job of frustrating the U.S., but it nearly stole a win in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. Veteran goalkeeper Hope Solo was there to make a flying save, however.
Solo also had to come up big in the 54th minute, as Kim Sooyun hit a floated ball toward goal that the U.S. mainstay pawed over the crossbar.
Two of the U.S.’s best scoring chances came after halftime. Abby Wambach set up Sydney Leroux in the 49th minute for a shot from point-blank range, but Leroux’s effort went right at South Korea goalkeeper Kim Jungmi.
Four minutes later, American right back Ali Krieger shot a loose ball from the top of the penalty area that skipped wide.
Jill Ellis’ side also had a golden opportunity to take the lead earlier in the game. Abby Wambach dropped deep in the 27th minute to help the U.S. create from the run of play, and it allowed the American to finally come up with some rare combination play that ended with Leroux pushing a shot off the mark.
Playing without Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, the U.S. had several other half-chances during the course of the game. Carli Lloyd gave it a go from distance in the 26th minute, but her soaring shot bent wide of the goal.
Meghan Klingenberg also came close, hitting a shot before halftime that was a bit too high for even a leaping Wambach to redirect on frame.
Leroux was involved in two other opportunities for the Americans. She hit a sliding shot wide of the goal in the 40th minute and also fired one right at Jungmi in the 63rd after making a bulldozing individual run down the left flank.
South Korea received bad news in the 17th minute, as Jung Seolbin had to come in for Park Heeyoung after the latter sustained a shoulder injury.
The Americans will now turn their focus toward the start of the World Cup. The U.S., looking for its third World Cup title, opens the tournament against Australia at Winnipeg Stadium.
What did you think of the USWNT’s 0-0 draw with South Korea? Which players impressed/disappointed you? Concerned about the Americans’ inability to combine and their reliance on being too direct?
Share your thoughts below.
Matt c: we are in agreement in asking ourselves, is this really it? However, the issue is not a lack of “flair” but a lack of soccer iq. The decision making across the board on and off the ball is done at such an amateur level relative to the best soccer nations. spacing, timing, and movement are so off that there are very few opportunities to ever see flair or creativity. We lack a soccer culture that makes some of these things Instinctual to high level players and we desperately lack quality coaches(from youth to academy to division 1 college soccer all the way up through our national teams) to help close this cultural soccer iq gap. Some day we may get there, but we have a long ways to go. Things like the ussda and ecnl are hardly going to fix these issues, they are mostly the same crap coaches and organizations under shinier and more effectively marketed brands.
Watched the match and many others. And i said to myself: Self, is this it? really? Are these the best players we have in the US. I saw zero flair….except for Tobin. I go to the local clubs. I see the talented and skilled….8, 10 …13 year olds. They are out there. Does the US senior team simply suck the life out of them?
We have two players who have dribbling/flair skills. Heath and Rapino. All the others generally depend on speed and work rate. They might have one move which generally involves finishing with pushing the ball into space and running fast. We have a team of Cobi Jones. I guess there’s really nothing with having a couple of those…but good lord, we’re not going to break down a team who parks the bus with crap like yesterday.
Watch the French midfield. Skill, comfort on the ball,.savvy… We have none of that.
So, again, i ask, is this the best we have ?
The USWNT has always been tactically naive. For two decades they’ve over powered teams with athleticism and depth. They’ve yet to have a coach who can adjust to the opponent. The gap has closed between us and the world’s top teams and we continue to hire coaching staffs that are devoid of ideas on how to put together a creative team.
When we did have a coach that rocked the veteran boat, they got him fired. Now we have clueless Jill Ellis. I hope Sunil and company have the guts to do the same when we make an early exit.
We need to clean house from top to bottom and that includes Sunil. Since he voted against Blatter, coupled with this lawsuit…things can only get worse for us. Unless the lawsuit can also bring Blatter down, sere screwed.
Horrible uninspiring play. Lots of hopeful long balls.
Maybe the USA trained hard right through this game and had very heavy legs from the start. That would obviously be smart because you don’t want to peak physically 9 days before the start of the cup
not a sweet performance. agreed lots of heavy legs for the US
The heavy legs might also be due to this team being as long in the tooth as probably all the other teams in their WC! also… where the hell was possession and creativity in the final 3rd? This team is in love with long hopeless passes over the top into double coverage. If we need Abby Wambaugh as a starter were done! She should be coming off the bench at @ 70..if we need a goal. Hopefully with the inclusion of Rapino and Morgan we will get a little bit of fluidity! I also think that Tobin Heath #17 is definitely our most creative winger, especially from the left side..
This team just doesn’t look coherent unless Rapino is on the field. It was a friendly and South Korea is way better than our “coaches” expected. Hence the non stop long balls. Sigh, they’re smaller and less athletic so lets put them under pressure and break them down with long balls for tall or fast players. Only Korea had some fast and talented players of their own. Doesn’t the US have plenty of American women former players way more accomplished and intelligent than Ellis? Do we really need a foreign coach for the women?