Blood streaming from a gash near the top of her head, Abby Wambach left the field. For nine minutes, the United States played short handed...
CHENGDU, China — Blood streaming from a gash near the top of her head, Abby Wambach left the field. For nine minutes, the United States played short handed while the standout forward had to get several stitches.
North Korea didn’t waste its chance.
The top-ranked United States allowed two goals while Wambach was off the field — one on a blunder by ex-Washington Huskies goalkeeper Hope Solo — and rallied for a 2-2 draw Tuesday in its opener at the Women’s World Cup.
“When they scored right away as I went off, I started to get worried,” Wambach said. “So I started to run to the locker room to get stitches put in.”
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The Americans, trying to regain the soccer title they won in 1991 and 1999, put pressure on themselves heading into Group B matches against third-ranked Sweden on Friday and Nigeria on Tuesday.
“I think the U.S. is the best in the world, but today they didn’t perform to their maximum,” North Korea coach Kim Kwang Min said.
Wambach opened scoring in the 50th minute on a rainy night. Five minutes later, she collided with North Korea’s Ri Kum Suk. Wambach fell to the ground, blood pouring from her head.
U.S. coach Greg Ryan, who decided not to replace Wambach, said, “I thought we could withstand playing 11 against 10.”
Kil Son Hui took a shot that slipped through Solo’s hands in the 58th minute and Kim Yong Ae connected in the 62nd.
“A hundred times Hope is going to save that one shot, but this is the one time it goes through her hand,” Ryan said. “It’s unlucky.”
After North Korea’s second goal, Wambach recalled, “I was yelling at the doctors to get it done quicker. I cursed some bad words, and hurried up and got my jersey on and ran as fast as I could to the midfield stripe to get back on.”
Heather O’Reilly closed out scoring in the 69th minute with the first World Cup goal of her career.
“I was thrilled to tie it up for us,” she said. “It is my job as a forward and it is always nice to walk away and think you did your job.”
Solo, a 26-year-old from Richland, finished with eight saves — including a diving deflection in stoppage time.
Did Ryan talk to Solo about her gaffe on the first goal?
“Yes, absolutely,” he said. “I went out and talked to her right after the game. I spoke to her and told her, ‘Hey, Hope, no problem. Don’t worry about it.’ She saves us a lot.
“You saw her save us there at the end of the game with that great save.”
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