U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team beats Korea, 4-1, in only scheduled 2013 New England appearance

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Foxborough, Mass. - posted Thu., Jun. 20, 2013
Abby Wambach buries a penalty kick in stoppage time to seal the U.S. Women's National Team's 4-1 victory over the Korea Republic at Gillette Stadium on June 15. Photos by Steve Smith.
Abby Wambach buries a penalty kick in stoppage time to seal the U.S. Women's National Team's 4-1 victory over the Korea Republic at Gillette Stadium on June 15. Photos by Steve Smith.

The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team played what is likely its lone New England match of the year on June 15 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The match vs. Korea drew more than 13,000 fans from all over New England, including many from eastern Connecticut, as the Yanks took the international friendly, 4-1.

The U.S. took control early. In the third minute, striker Sydney Leroux crossed a pass into Alex Morgan, who took a shot  that Korean goalie Kim Jungmi blocked but couldn't hold onto, leaving the ball teed up for an easy sweep-in for Massachusetts native Kristie Mewis. It was Mewis' first goal in international competition.

Leroux said she was happy to help Mewis score her first goal. "I'm so proud of her, and I'm so happy that I could assist her first national team goal," Leroux said after the game.

Four minutes later, Mewis threw in a ball that midfielder Tobin Heath converted to a nifty pass to Lauren Cheney inside the penalty area that Cheney easily tucked away.

Korea got its only goal in the 26th minute, via crafty passing, with Cho Sohyun knocking home the netter.

In the second half, midfielder Carli Lloyd took matters into her own hands and fired a scorching shot from 30 yards out that beat, and perhaps surprised, Jungmi.

Senior member of the striking squad Abby Wambach inched toward Mia Hamm's record 159 goals. After several attempts, mostly aiming for Wambach's trademark headers, #20 took a penalty kick in stoppage time after Alex Morgan was wrestled down inside the penalty area by a Korean player. Wambach buried the kick in the far right of the net for career goal number 156, further sealing the win.

The game in Massachusetts was the first chance for the women's team to respond to the Boston Marathon bombings, which added to the game's atmosphere.

"We play for the USA, but today, we played for Boston," said Heather O'Reilly, veteran midfielder, and member of the Boston Breakers professional team.

Coach Tom Sermanni said his team started off great, but may have become a little complacent.

"We started well for 20 minutes, and I was really pleased," he said, "but then we took our foot off the pedal. When we do the things that we can do well, we're a really, really good side. When we switch off and we start doing sloppy things, we become an average side. We've got to tighten up in those areas."

Sermanni said Mewis had a "very sound game" and that was typical of her performance training sessions and practices of late.

"She gives us great balance on the left hand side, she's very comfortable in possession and has the ability to get those long passes with good technique," he said.

Mewis said her goal was "the best feeling in the entire world."

"It was just amazing to be able to play in front of my fans, my family and friends," she said. "Syd made a great run down the end line. She kind of did all the work. I was just kind of lucky I was there. It ended up slipping through and I just tapped it in."

Morgan Brian, 20, also got her first cap, and nearly had a goal on an assist by Wambach.

"It's a dream come true," Brian said. "You dream about this, so it was pretty great."

Leroux also became a member of the Breakers recently, and said she loves her new home.

"Boston has been amazing to me," she said. "It's definitely welcomed me with open arms, and it's been a great time. It was great playing in Boston and I finally feel like I have a place that I can call home."

Leroux has also been receiving some press heralding her as the next women's soccer star, but said she isn't concerned about that sort of thing.

"I'm just having fun and playing soccer," she said. "That's what I do."

The U.S. Women's National Team faces Korea again on June 20 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

The U.S. Men's National Team will play at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on July 16, in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match vs. Costa Rica.

For more information, visit www.ussoccer.com.

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