[USA-NORTH KOREA REPORT CARD] On a rainy night at Old Trafford, the hallowed home stadium of Manchester United, the USA women dispatched a stubborn North Korean team, 1-0, to finish first in Group G en route to the quarterfinals. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players ...
USA Player Ratings
RATING/PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
5 Hope Solo (Seattle Sounders) 121/0.
Stopped one of the rare North Korean attacks with a confident collection at the near post under pressure, and cleanly handled the few balls her teammates didn't take care of.
5 Amy LePeilbet (no club) 72/0.
Returned to the starting lineup after sitting out the Colombia game and worked some nice combinations with Heather O’Reilly on the right flank. She seldom gave her opponents the time or space to provide a cross or get to the byline. She partially blocked a shot by Ri Ye Gyong that rolled harmlessly to Solo.
6 Christie Rampone (no club) 263/4.
Buttressed the back line and stayed home so her defensive partners could look for openings to get forward, and she found a lot of room for passes with North Korea reluctant to press the U.S. back line. The captain swept up several balls knocked through the middle and headed away threatening lobs in the final minutes.
5 Rachel Buehler (no club) 85/3.
Initially she exploited the lack of North Korean pressure to step into midfield and played a ball forward midway through first half to Rapinoe, whose long shot went over the bar. North Korea caught her in a couple of bad spots in the second half when interchanging attackers found space but they were unable to seriously threaten.
5 Kelley O’Hara (no club) 22/0.
She stuffed opposing captain Kim Chung Sim in one-v-one duel near the byline to smother an attack. When she stayed back on attempted offside trap Kim Su Gyong got behind the back line but couldn’t get a shot on goal. She cut inside in the last minute to make space for shot she hit too high.
5 Carli Lloyd (no club) 138/8.
Covered a lot of ground and switched play effectively to pull and stretch the North Korean midfield, and she got forward late in the first half to shoot over the crossbar from close range. Lack of midfield bite in second half allowed North Korea promising spells of possession, but she soldiered on and hit a free kick on frame in the final minutes.
6 Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers) 168/34.
She worked up and down the right flank to good effect. Sharp run and clever touch took her into space near the byline and her cutback set up a chance. Early in second half her steal and dribble created another opportunity, and she later drove a hard cross that Abby Wambach just failed to get her head on. Defensively she chased back a long way midway through the second half to defuse an attack.
6 Lauren Cheney (no club) 70/18.
She played another series of intelligent linking balls while also squelching North Korea in the middle third. Her perfectly weighted chip into the box for Alex Morgan produced the only goal. Late in the first half she intercepted a half-clearance to poke a shot a yard over the bar. She withstood a few tough challenges.
4 Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Sounders) 55/13.
Notably off her game in a quiet 45 minutes. Lack of energy and ambition very atypical but fatigue, or undisclosed illness, after two excellent games could be the cause.
6 Alex Morgan (Seattle Sounders) 45/29.
Coolly and cleverly collected chip from Cheney to spin between two defenders and set up Wambach for easy goal. Floated out wide in the second half to open up space for Tobin Heath, and though active her play tailed off in the latter stages as the North Koreans were able to crowd her off the ball. Struck a left-footed shot that came back off the base of the post early in the match.
6 Abby Wambach (no club) 185/141.
Ball from left wing set up Morgan for a shot that hit the post, and she herself nicked the upright with a toe-poke of a deflected shot. Scored the only goal by polishing off a classy feed from Morgan. Absorbed several crashing hits, as usual, and battled on gallantly, as usual.
4 Tobin Heath (New York Fury) 48/6.
Shot over the crossbar shortly after replacing Rapinoe at halftime and though she added some energy her touches lacked precision.
5 Becky Sauerbrunn (D.C. United) 25/0.
Took over for Buehler in the 75th minute and cleared a dangerous ball dropping near the edge of the goal area.
NR Amy Rodriguez (no club) 92/25.
Replaced Cheney in the 83rd minute.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)