Benson's Breakdown: U.S. vs. North Korea

September 28, 2003
By Jenny Benson

The United States' 3-0 win today against North Korea showed the team's versatility and depth which I think is a big reason why it is the favorite to win the tournament.

The game was an exciting one, especially watching the speed of the North Koreans. I thought the defense did a solid job of stopping the Koreans' penetration and not letting them get in behind the back line.

In the midfield, the U.S. had some problems in the first half with getting caught holding on to the ball too long and getting dispossessed, but in the second half moved the ball much faster which helped their attack.

Up front, was a solid tandem of Wambach and Milbrett, combining speed and quickness with height and strength that gave the North Koreans some problems. I think this game also showed how important set pieces are. All three goals came from set pieces and this is what separates the U.S. from a lot of other countries. The U.S. is good at capitalizing on these precious opportunities just like the team did today.

Defense: I thought the back line played extremely well today, doing a great job of getting into the attack and stopping North Korea from combining which is something they do very well. Joy Fawcett showed her leadership out there by controlling the game and settling the game down when it got a little frantic.

Cat Reddick not only got two goals but I thought the way she defended was great. She stepped up big on a couple of 1v1s and won the aerial game in the box. Of course you can't forget about Briana Scurry who came up with some clutch saves late. She allowed the U.S. to keep a comfortable lead. If she keeps playing well, I see good things for the U.S. in the next couple of weeks.

Midfield: The midfield played well, although I thought they struggled a bit in the first half with holding on to the ball too long. The North Koreans are so fast that one and two touch is how you have to play. They have an amazing ability of closing you down so quickly which is why it is so important to move the ball fast.

I also would of like to see the U.S. get the ball to Lilly wide a little more because she is so dangerous running down the flank. I thought in the second half they moved the ball much better and did a great job solving the speedy North Koreans. With Foudy coming in, she conducted everything as usual and helped the U.S. control the ball better.

Forwards: Wambach again stepped up and showed why she is on the team. She played extremely well creating a lot of chaos in and around the box. She made good runs and also did a good job of checking to the ball so that Milbrett could get in behind the North Korean defense.

I thought Shannon MacMillan came in and made an impact with an assist and just a lot of hard work. The forwards also did a great job in defending. Tracking the outside backs when necessary and just setting the tone for the whole team.

Overall, I thought this was a good step for the U.S. They were able to rest some players, get other players experience and post a good result. They put together 90 good minutes and shut down a very good North Korean team.

Jenny Benson, U.S. Women's National Team pool player and former Philadelphia Charge defender, is covering the Women's World Cup for ESPN Soccernet.com.