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World Cup Matchday: USA-North Korea

Greetings again from Sichuan province, where the Americans' long-awaited World Cup opener will kick off at 5 p.m. local time, 5 a.m. in the Eastern U.S. Before we get started with the match, I wanted to share some financial details of the USSF's player contracts. In the absence of a domestic pro league, the USSF has had to essentially support the national team player pool.

According to the federation.....

*There are full-time salaries for a minimum of 20 players, adding up to $1.7 million per year. Under the previous agreement, the majority of compensation was based on game appearance fees and performance bonuses.
*At least 14 players have a base salary of $70,000.
*At least 6 players earn $50,000.
*Up to 4 players per year make $30,000.
*Each player earns $1,000 bonuses per each non-World Cup and non-Olympic victory.
*The USSF pays half of a player's salary during maternity leave.
*During residency camps, players receive a housing allowance and a moving stipend.
*When the new league is launched in 2009 and many of the players sign with clubs, the USSF will offer reduced full-time salaries.
*Each player receives a $10,000 bonus for being named to a World Cup or Olympic roster.
*Medal bonuses for World Cup and Olympics are: $50,000 per player for gold, $20,000 for silver, $10,000 for bronze.
*Complex bonuses are paid for the Victory Tour this fall.
*The current deal expires at the end of 2008. The new deal guarantees an increase of between 20 percent and 27 percent for all categories.
*According to the latest USSF tax records I could find, Coach Greg Ryan earned $152,864. In his final year as the men's coach, Bruce Arena was paid $899,644. No details of Bob Bradley's compensation.

Okay, onto the match. Rainy day here in Chengdu, potential slick conditions for the players. My profile of Ryan is available by clicking here.

USA STARTERS (3-4-3 formation): Solo; Rampone, Whitehill, Markgraf; Chalupny, Boxx, Lloyd, Lopez; O'Reilly, Wambach, Lilly.

Before the match, I asked Sepp Blatter what he thought of the 11-0 scoreline between Germany and Argentina, and whether he thought it has a bad thing for women's soccer. His response:

"Definitely I did not like this result, I am honest to say that, because in the opening match the result of 11-0 the team receiving 11 goals in the reigning champion in South America [Argentina beat Brazil]. This is not good when we look forward to the future to perhaps have 24 teams."

In response to a follow-up question from the AP's Stephen Wade about whether expansion of the field from 16 to 24 might happen despite such a result, Blatter said: "When we start the competition with a result of 11-0, it will not enhance the chances to do it, but it's only the first match. ... But for us, it will be good if we can open this competition because in 1995 I said the future of football is feminine and it is still feminine."

Later, Blatter described last night's opening ceremony as having "joy, pleasure, music, dance, entertainment. ... It went under the skin."

This is now my motto in life. Thanks, Sepp.

For those of you watching on TV and following online, this is the place for pregame, in-game and postgame discussion. My game report will appear on within minutes of the final whistle and I plan to return to the Insider later with notes and quotes.

By Steve Goff  |  September 11, 2007; 1:45 AM ET
Categories:  Women  
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Next: The Woes of Chivas


Renmin south is the place for foreigners, actually it has been beginning to resemble wenceslas square recently. we jst dont like to get up before noon.
get a chinese guide to take you on some side streets and eat at the cheap restaurants, they are delicious. more expensive chinese restaurants just have bizarro ingredients

Posted by: Mayor of NW | September 11, 2007 3:44 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what sort of karma points Mr. Goff had to acquire in previous incarnations to have a job like he does. Go USA, although I worry for the north korean women is they have a bad showing.

Posted by: up too early | September 11, 2007 4:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid the field will be worse than yesterday's Germany match if there is rain....

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 4:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad they are being so well compensated. I don't believe a new domestic league, if it gets off the ground in 2009, will be able to match that sort of compensation, even for the top players.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 11, 2007 4:54 AM | Report abuse

The place looks empty...

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 4:59 AM | Report abuse

Goff: Are the BSPN2 people there with you, or are they calling the match from Bristol, CT? (At least there are no sideline reporters!)

Posted by: Section 410 | September 11, 2007 5:14 AM | Report abuse

It sounds as though FIFA has already made the decision the expand from 16 to 24 teams, even though the quality of play could decline. Not a wise decision, if you ask me.

Posted by: Bill in Md. | September 11, 2007 5:19 AM | Report abuse

Our passing is awful. I feel like I'm watching the men's team.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 11, 2007 5:31 AM | Report abuse

The 3-4-3 is ginvg NK too much space. I suggest a 4-4-2.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 11, 2007 5:47 AM | Report abuse

We definitely need to change the formation.

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 5:52 AM | Report abuse

A bunch of errant passes, and PRK has more decent shots. PRK packs it in and waits for the USA's methodical attack. USA pretty much has good athletes, but creative, technical players it does not.

Posted by: Vladimir | September 11, 2007 5:57 AM | Report abuse

U don't think I've seen a driven corner kick since Milbrett to Fawcett for a goal against Germany in 1999 (at Jakc Kent Cooke). All of our corners come from the Landon Donovan school of lobs.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 11, 2007 6:00 AM | Report abuse

If NK can shoot from long range, why can't the USA? The keeper needs to be tested, given the slickness of the ball.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 11, 2007 6:02 AM | Report abuse


Much better organization up front this half. Lilly heard Section 410 with her earlier long shot.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 11, 2007 6:07 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: emanon | September 11, 2007 6:08 AM | Report abuse

Wambach goes down with head to head contact while covering a corner.

Greg Ryan has to realize that we're going to have to save up this immensely talented player for the knockout rounds, otherwise she's going to get worn out like the last WC.

Posted by: Vladimir | September 11, 2007 6:14 AM | Report abuse

1-1 Hope let's a hard shot slip through her hands.

Posted by: Vladimir | September 11, 2007 6:15 AM | Report abuse

1-2 USA defense really flat-footed

Posted by: Vladimir | September 11, 2007 6:18 AM | Report abuse

North Korea is goin to pack it in now. Can't wait much longer for Abby.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 11, 2007 6:21 AM | Report abuse

watching on a non-english feed - any word on ESPN2 re Wambach ?

Posted by: emanon | September 11, 2007 6:22 AM | Report abuse


O'Reilly 69'

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 11, 2007 6:26 AM | Report abuse

69' 2-2 O'Reilly, really....picks up on misplayed ball in the PRK box.

Posted by: Vladimir | September 11, 2007 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Am watching Eurosport, and there's been no mention of Wambach's injury. A recent shot of Wambach shows that she doesn't have a concussed look in her eyes.

Posted by: Vladimir | September 11, 2007 6:29 AM | Report abuse

PRK definitely seems the more energetic overall. Possession has really turned in their favor.

Posted by: JkR | September 11, 2007 6:31 AM | Report abuse

Eurosport's British commentators hammering the USA for giving up posession far too easily. Also the shots of American supporters in the crowd are only friends, family and people with USSF passes.

Posted by: Vladimir | September 11, 2007 6:36 AM | Report abuse

just woke up in the midwest. will watch the rest of the game on tivo later, but first: nothing quite like the international date line. go USA!

Posted by: dco | September 11, 2007 6:40 AM | Report abuse

PRK with far more energy at '85. USA's attack is sputtering with pretty much only Lilly and Wambach on counters. Lilly has been smothered by the quick PRK defenders, so she's been pretty much invisible throughout the match.

Posted by: Vladimir | September 11, 2007 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Why wait until the 2nd minute of added time for the 1st sub?

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 11, 2007 6:50 AM | Report abuse

That was an ugly and disappointing match by the US.

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Eurosport commentators praise the PRK, and say they deserved a win with the better shots on goal and better defense. I'd have to agree, the USA doesn't have a lot of skill at creating chances, and not a lot of technical ability on the ball. They look like they are far more defensive attitude.

Posted by: Vladimir | September 11, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Well, we now know that PRK can play the "Beautiful Game." USA was just pathetic with scarcely ever managing to string 2 passes together. PRK was quite impressive, using the field, their positioning and appropriate aggression to run rings around the USA, sorry to say. The PRK deserved better.

Posted by: Albert Hall | September 11, 2007 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Hans Brix? Oh no!

Posted by: Joe S. | September 11, 2007 7:34 AM | Report abuse

What lineup/formation changes do y'all project for the Sweden match? The Yanks really need a playmaker, but I'm not sure who that would be (perhaps Wagner if she were healthier; move Lilly inside?).

For all we know, PRK may have peaked with this match. They certainly will have lost the element of surprise by the time they go up against Sweden a week from now.

Should we now be calling ourselves Samantha's Army?

Posted by: Section 410 | September 11, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Way to go, ESPN2 website.

I guess it wasn't 7:55 AM game after all.

Posted by: Sean | September 11, 2007 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Horrible game from the US. I'm willing to pass off the first goal as a wet ball error, but we gave NK so much space. The players were struggling and Ryan waited until too late to bring on Kai. At that point, if you must sub, bring in a defensive player to protect the tie.

GI\ive NK credit for out running and just put playing us.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 11, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

So, now you can say that Blatter got under your skin...

Posted by: RK | September 11, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

I surprised myself and got up early for the match. However, I was surprised at the lack of midfield play from the US team. And definitely there was no half-time adjustment. Why stick with 3 midfield players when the Koreans are clearly outworking us in that area?

Posted by: Bart | September 11, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I just reviewed my tape of a portion of the match, and I noticed that they showed a shot of USA fans in the crowd dressed in red. That was a faux pas, as they disappeared into the sea of PRK supporters. I hope they don't repeat this gaffe by dressing in blue for the Sweden match.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 11, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

A fortunate result for the USWNT but a result against a very good North Korea team nonetheless. Korea was clearly quicker to the ball, showed more movement in their offense and defended well. I am surprised the U.S. struggled so badly when Wambach was out, allowing both goals although NK had other excellent chances as well. People need to be realistic that despite the fantastic U.S. record - they will have to perform at their very best to win this tournament.

Posted by: sbg | September 11, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

No score in either of the late matches (Nigeria-Sweden and England-Japan), approaching the 30-minute mark.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 11, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

*Insider's post is not up yet on I am curious to see if it looked as bad from the ground as it did on TV.

*The US got absolutely TOOLED in the midfield. Not clear if their players are that much quicker to the ball or what. I suspect rather that with this formation (which I saw as a 4-3-3, not a 3-4-3, at least out of possession which was like 2/3 of the game) you simply can't ask 3 MFs, only one of which is holding, to control or even to stop against 5 midfielders and a back constantly pushing up. I think back to the send-off games when they experimented with a 4-2-4, and the reason given was practice for Korea. I thought then, and even more so now (with benefit of hindsight), that when your biggest questions are and remain in the midfield, you need to get the inexperienced MFs more time, and you probably need to get more of them on the field. 4-4-2 at least, maybe 3-5-2 depending on the health of Sweden's attackers and our back line (Markgraf was getting abused and was in obvious pain). Boxx was wearing cement boots out there, it may be time to give Wagner and/or Osborne some time. Osborne is quick to the ball, and Wagner can start attacks.

*Along the same lines, the weakness of the 3 front is that 3 players get played out of the game with one pass, and that happened over and over again with no apparent adjustment by the US (at least none that I could see on the lousy feed, and none that was commented on). It also helps if your forwards can maintain possession once in a while which we couldn't do.

*The Koreans looked like they had actually played in the rain once or twice. Foudy was saying the rain was to their detriment but I disagree. I think the rain accentuated their technical superiority.

*Agree with post above -- it was tough to get shots off, but there were a couple of times when Lloyd and others could have unloaded from range. As Solo found out, that ball is tough to stop, especially with the weight of Lloyd's ball. Very puzzling that they weren't launching more often. A couple of times at the start of the second half.

*Korea capitalized on man advantage, US did not. Again, it looked like they had actually practiced for that, whereas US seemed lost when Wambach as out. I'm not sure why the loss of a forward should have such an impact on the defensive shape, but maybe it was just mental.

*Thought back to Brazil game in the Olympics. A technically superior team. But it seemed to me that unlike Brazil Korea at the end was fitter than US as well. We'll find out later this week for sure.

*Still, if not for a blown save it was a win. Chins up, on to the next game.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 11, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit, Nigeria and Japan have surprised me so far. Why did Argentina have to ruin things for everybody?

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

No score in either of the late matches (Nigeria-Sweden and England-Japan) at the 35-minute mark.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 11, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Both matches are scoreless at half...

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

My gosh, I am shocked I got up at 5AM to watch a game! At least during the men's WC in 2002 I didn't have a job and i could stay up to all hours.

First: Gotta give credit to the DPRK. Everytime the USWNT got forward with the ball there were 9 Korean women in 18 yard box. Their defensive presence was huge.

Second: They dominated teh mid-field. For most of the first half and a good part of the second we couldn't string three passes together and were lucky to even pass once.

Third: I love Hope Solo. She is awesome. Pretty good with a wet ball and those amazing DPRK near midfield strikes. I think she had a great game. Her defenders let her down sometimes.

Last: DPRK did a great job of marking and containing Abby Wombach. They did their homework.

This game was totally the US hanging on against a really good defending and good possession team. I think we underestimated them and were probably worrying about Germany. One opponent at a time. The defense needs to step it up, especially against a possession team with a strong midfield, and we need to not put all of our eggs in the Abby Wombach basket. When we started to rely on the others for leadership we produced two goals. Go USA!

Posted by: T. Henry | September 11, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I forgot to say that I saw Solo's blown save, but that she played a pretty good game aside from that. Those shots from way out from the DPRK were rockets.

Posted by: T. Henry | September 11, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

The US played a good game against a quality opponent. The Koreans were clearly fitter and more technically skilled on the ball. Our ladies struggled to string passes together for much of the match. But in the end, we put on a clinic in how to beat a quicker and more technically skilled opponent in a difficult game. We played a physical match and stymied the Korean attack for the most part. We have quality players, and that quality will show throughout this tournament. But we just got a wakeup call. The rest of the world is not going to roll over and play dead while we walk home with the hardware. If we win this tournament the ladies will come home with the knowledge that they beat the best the world has to offer. GREAT match.

Posted by: Matt | September 11, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

North Korea deserved to win this one--they were the better team. They played more intelligently, appeared to generate more danger to me, seemed to have more possession.

I think there are a couple of lessons from this game:
1. The US Women have trouble with quickness.

2. The US Women also seem to be too dependent on Abby Wambach. I don't just mean to score goals--when she's off the field, they lose confidence and focus.

3. While I think the backline is strong, the midfield performance was absolutely lacking this match. When the US women face a team that is substandard (ie: doesn't train regularly, doesn't have more than a few good players, or aren't good athletically), the US can generally steamroll them (and that includes a lot of teams in women's international soccer b/c sadly, too few nations--see Brazil--support their teams with even modest resources). But when the USA faces a team that trains regularly, has some athleticism, and isn't unskilled (if they're not as skilled or as deep as the USA), we may have some real issues. The versatility of the US women and/or the ability of the midfield to "step it up" are going to be tested this WC.

Posted by: JoeW | September 11, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

The US strategy was terrible. They should have been playing a possession game early, stringing together short passes designed to tire those fast North Korean legs. Instead, they kept driving the ball long; it seemed that a North Korean player was near the ball every time it came down.

While JP and Julie kept pointing out that the 2 PRK goals came when Abby was off the field, that is no excuse. Abby is a striker, so her absence should have had no impact on the defense. Kil was not marked on the first goal and had too much time to drill a shot towards Solo.

I also cannot understand why Ryan did not bring in fresh legs about midway through the second half. His lone substitution was too little and came too late.

On the other hand, it was a very entertaining, very competitive game.

Posted by: ho | September 11, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Sweden is up 1-0

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Japan gets a goal and is up 1-0 and bunkering

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

sitruc, thanks for the updates on nig-swe and jap-eng. Much appreciated.

Posted by: Matt | September 11, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: emanon | September 11, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

All even in the Japan-England match

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

All even everywhere!!!

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

2-1 England

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Uwak of Nigeria tied it up in the 82nd minute. Sweden had eight players in the penalty area and Nigeria stilled scored.

Posted by: Pedro Burrito | September 11, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

so 8 mins + stoppage time to hope for no more goals (or 2 goals) so everyone in the group will start the tournament with 1 point

Posted by: emanon | September 11, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

England 2 - Japan 1
Sweden 1 - Nigeria 1

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

WOW Japan.

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

A day of draws...

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

After three draws today, I kinda wish there were more Argentinas...

Posted by: sitruc | September 11, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

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