The U.S. women’s national soccer team beat Korea Republic 4-1 in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on Saturday in the first of two matches against the No. 16 women’s national side.
The Americans got off to a beautiful start, securing a quick 2-0 lead within seven minutes of the first half. Their attack was rampant, and they consistently found space in the Korean 18-yard box in the early going.
However, once the game settled a bit, the Koreans were able to work their quick passing game to exploit a somewhat drowsy USWNT back line. Korea was able to pull within a goal after a technically perfect laces-led strike by Cho So-Hyun.
Carli Lloyd added a third goal for the Americans with a scorcher from deep distance in the second half. Abby Wambach sealed the match from the penalty spot after Alex Morgan was bundled down in the box.
Here are three reasons why U.S. dominated Korea Republic, 4-1.
Sydney Leroux and Wide Play
Sydney Leroux was a terror in the first half. The American winger played a unique style in that she was comfortable hugging the touchline but also ventured centrally to create danger. The result for the U.S. was a multi-faceted offensive weapon in Leroux.
The Americans were able to create their first goal thanks to a barreling run from Leroux that displayed her top-speed dribbling capabilities. Her ability to take the bi-line and offer the sort of diagonal ball that forces a goalkeeper into a difficult decision is just the type of wing play that allows an athletically superior side like the U.S. to dominate.
She was not content to just stay on the outside, however. Rather than just give the Korean defenders issues on the flank, Leroux galloped anywhere she saw fit. Her high level of fitness was on pure display, and she was clearly in the mood to press and make life difficult for the Korean backs everywhere on the pitch.
Crisp, Two-Touch Passing
The U.S. were clearly the superior side in terms of athleticism; however, they dictated play due to their ability to possess simply in the midfield third.
Led by the central midfield, the U.S. passed crisply throughout the majority of the match, connected simple square and backward balls in the midfield and limited Korean opportunities as a result.
This sort of tactical spacing and technical discipline forced the Koreans to chase the ball and afforded the U.S. time to attack or to slow the tempo, depending on the situation. And while the U.S. dominated the possession, they did so in an area of the pitch that led to a territorial advantage as well.
That, of course, made manufacturing chances difficult for the Koreans because they rarely recovered the ball high enough on the field. Clean possession also built the Americans' confidence, as they were so competent in offensive buildup. U.S. rarely lost the ball in the midfield, and that sort of precision is a recipe for success.
USWNT have been successful lately because they are capable of scoring in so many ways.
They scored four goals against Korea, and all differed in type and creation.
Their first came from classic wing work, as Leroux proved she was faster than her marker and took the corner with ease: It was a definition of outside midfield play. A wide-open Kristie Mewis got her first goal for the U.S. as a result.
The second goal came about from highly intelligent soccer. The U.S. used what appeared to be an innocuous throw-in to find an open Lauren Cheney in the 18-yard box. Cheney took advantage of a disorganized Korean defense during a set-piece situation to put the U.S. up 2-0.
The third goal was a screamer from Carli Lloyd—the type of goal that midfielders dream of smacking from well beyond the 18-yard box. That sort of deep scoring threat makes defending against the U.S. tricky.
The icing on the cake was a calm finish from the spot from Abby Wambach after Alex Morgan earned a penalty late in the match.
With another match to be played between Korea Republic and USWNT, it will be interesting to see if the away side can adjust and make a game of it in Harrison, N.J. on June 20. It may well come down to the fact that the U.S. are in a different class than most of their opponents.