Women's World Cup: USA downs North Korea without Mia

By Scott French, Senior Editor in Columbus, Ohio

All that talk about the United States' immense depth was confirmed Sunday as April Heinrichs left Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Cindy Parlow and Shannon Boxx on the bench for the Americans' 3-0 triumph over North Korea.

Foudy came on for the second half, but the U.S. stars were defenders Catherine Reddick, who scored two goals, and Christie Pearce, the best player on the field in the first half; midfielder Kylie Bivens, who spent 45 minutes on each flank; and goalkeeper Briana Scurry, who made two sensational saves to preserve the shutout before a sellout crowd of 22,828 at Columbus Crew Stadium.

The victory clinched the Group A title and set up a quarterfinal meeting Wednesday at Foxboro, Mass., with longtime rival Norway.

Hanna Ljungberg scored twice as Sweden romped, 3-0, over Nigeria in the opener of the doubleheader to advance to a quarterfinal meeting at Foxboro with Brazil. Thursday's quarterfinals, in Portland, Ore., will pair Germany against Russia and China against Canada.

All three goals came from set pieces -- nine of the Americans' 11 in the tournament have -- with Abby Wambach converting a 17th-minute penalty kick and Reddick scoring from corner kicks in the 48th and 66th minutes.

Wambach scored from a deceptive Bivens cross in the 16th, but Brazilian referee Sueli Tortura had whistled O Kum Ran for fouling Tiffeny Milbrett in the box before the ball reached Wambach.

Reddick, at the far post, scored with her lap after Foudy flicked on Aly Wagner's corner kick at the start of the second half. She headed home her second from a Shannon MacMillan cross after Foudy won the ball following a poorly hit MacMillan corner.

The goals were Reddick's second and third with the U.S. team, but her first, scored on a free kick against Norway during the 2001 Algarve Cup, was when the U.S. under-21 squad was filling in for the full national team.

Joy Fawcett was again outstanding marshaling the U.S. backline, which was tested repeatedly -- but rarely penetrated -- by the North Koreans. The Asian champions owned midfield much of the match with a superb possession game but had little to show for it despite a strong effort from forward Ri Kum Suk.

Scurry, virtually untested in the first half, acrobatically tipped shots over the crossbar from Jin Pyol Hui in the 60th minute and Yun In Sil in the 79th.

Wambach was solid up front, using her size and skill to create opportunities, but Milbrett was nearly invisible, her second subpar performance in as many games.

North Korea's midfield dominance was thwarted when Foudy came on at halftime for Kristine Lilly, stepping into the holding slot in the Americans' customary 4-4-2 formation, with Tiffany Roberts -- fine defensively but inconsistent with the ball -- moving to the right flank. Bivens, impressive on the right in the first half, was as strong on the left in the second.

Pearce was superb, defensively and pushing forward on the right flank, in the first half, and left back Kate Sobrero gave her finest performance of the Cup, battling hard to prevent service to Ri and Jin.

MacMillan, making her 2003 World Cup debut, sent a fine corner that Foudy headed at North Korea goalkeeper Ri Jong Hui in the 82nd minute, then challenged keeper Ri with a dipping free kick from 28 yards in the 86th,

Danielle Slaton, battling a persistent knee injury, made her World Cup debut, coming on for Sobrero in the 73rd. Only two players on the U.S. roster -- midfielder Angela Hucles (stress fracture in her right tibia) and backup goalkeeper Siri Mullinix -- have not seen action.

Germany, tournament co-favorite with the United States, took a major blow when midfielder Steffi Jones, who played the past two seasons with the WUSA's Washington Freedom, sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a 6-1 rout of Argentina on Saturday. The Germans also have lost defender Linda Bresonik to a quad-lining tear suffered in Wednesday's 3-0 win over Japan.

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