The first game of the United States' 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup campaign was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the team looked equally flat and anxious. They were impatient, regularly giving the ball away, and they lacked creativity. The second half was a completely different story, as the team played confidently and much more patiently, keeping the ball much better and producing two goals. North Korea couldn't create any clear-cut scoring chances against a United States defense that played well, and the USWNT won by a final score of 2-0.
Lauren Cheney, starting the game ahead of Megan Rapinoe in a significant change in strategy, scored the first goal of the game on an intelligent header. When Abby Wambach drifted out to the left flank to pick up a long ball in the 54th minute, Cheney had the tactical awareness to run into the box, occupying the position that Wambach usually occupies and that she had vacated. Wambach put a cross into the box and Cheney freed herself to get her head on the ball, putting it into the back of the net.
The clinching goal was scored by defender Rachel Buehler, who netted what was only her second career USWNT goal in 60 appearances for the team. The United States women score a lot of goals with their heads on corner kicks, but this goal came on a scramble in the box which eventually resulted in a right-footed shot by Buehler. Hong Myong-Hui was screened and reacted late, whiffing as she swiped at the ball which rolled into the net.
Pia Sundhage's decision to put Lauren Cheney into the game was justified with her great play and her goal, but Megan Rapinoe made an impact on the game when she was substituted into the game in the second half. Sundhage isn't one to make drastic changes, but perhaps there will be a place for both players against Colombia. Both Amy Rodriguez and Carli Lloyd were average, and Cheney has proven that she can play multiple positions.