USA-North Korea Aftermath
Before I dive into my complete game report that will appear in the print edition and on the Web site later, I wanted to share the night's other scores and a few postgame quotes.
Nigeria scored late to tie favored Sweden, 1-1, so all four teams in Group B are even with a point apiece, although the U.S. and North Korea have the advantage because of more goals scored (two). In Friday's doubleheader in Chengdu, the Americans will face Sweden while the Koreans will take on Nigeria.
After allowing two goals by Kelly Smith in a two-minute span, Japan struck on a free kick during added time to tie England, 2-2. In Group A, Germany has three points, England and Japan one apiece, and Argentina none.
USA quotes (I saved some for use in the main story):
Heather O'Reiilly, on her equalizer: "It was a thrill. It's every kid's dream to start in a World Cup and to score in a World Cup. I am walking away pleased with the goal. I have mixed feelings - obviously I would have wanted a win to go along with that - but we got the point and we are moving on toward Sweden now."
O'Reilly, on the Koreans: "It seemed like North Korea was getting more chances on the frame than we were. Hats off to North Korea; they got their players so fast up the field that it stretched us, and by the time that we could clear a ball, we didn't have our whole team together in attack. Our chances were limited and we were expecting people to do magical things instead of building the attack."
O'Reilly, on the goal: "It was totally instinctual. One of the things, as a front-runner, is to keep moving in the box and you are going to find yourself in positions to score. I was just moving around in the box and the ball just wound up on my feet. I just tried to get something on it to get it on frame. It didn't feel like it came off my foot very cleanly; it kind of surprised me it was as nice of a goal as it was, and that's something a forward just practices - striking the ball a ton of times and that's just total instincts; it comes to you, you strike it and good things happen."
Kristine Lilly, on being behind: "We knew we had time and we knew we just had to play. It wasn't like, 'oh, [expletive], we're down a goal.' It wa more like, 'We're okay, let's start keeping the ball, let's organize defensively and we still got time to get a goal.' That's what is so great about this group because we haven't been in this situation and we did come out with a point."
Lilly, on the Koreans: "They served more long balls than we were expecting, they were more direct. We knew they were going to be good, we knew it was going to be a great game and I think it was. For the fans, I think it was great to see attacking soccer, they saw goals, they saw teams combating to the very end and that's what this World Cup is going to give you."
Hope Solo, on overcoming the bad goal: "It was more difficult than I have had to do on the field besides playing the day after my dad's passing. So I think I've been tested and tested mentally to find a way to get through things and I knew at that point I needed to find a way because they were going to keep pushing for that third goal."
Solo, on the gaffe: "A day in the life of a goalkeeper. The conditions were very slick, very wet, those balls spin like crazy, but no excuse, it happens and I'm just glad I still had a good game."
Solo, on being busy: "I knew this was going to be a game where my team was going to need me, and I was happy for that. I haven't had a game like that in quite some time, where I have been tested."
Greg Ryan, on the game: "North Korea is a fantastic team. They played great attacking football and defended well tonight. There were chances for the U.S. to win, and also for North Korea to win. We knew what a difficult group this would be, and it's proving to be a very difficult group."
Ryan, on whether he watched the Germany game: "I did watch the game and I wish we had played Argentina tonight. Germany is a very good team; they haven't been tested yet."
North Korea Coach Kim Kwang Min: "I think the U.S. team is the best team in the world, but today they didn't perform the maximum that they can. ... I'm satisfied with the performance of my team considering the fact that we have still not reached the level of the U.S."
Kim, on his team's ambitions: "We are marching toward the target of the world title."
Kim, on future games with the U.S.: "I am slightly disappointed for the result, but if we play the U.S. team next time, I think I have found the right tactic to beat them."
Video highlights here.
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