BOSTON – Abby Wambach drew within two goals of Mia Hamm's record haul of 158 goals with a late penalty conversion in the United States women's national team 4-1 victory over Korea Republic on Saturday night.
Wambach polished off a fine U.S. performance with a cool spot kick in second-half stoppage time to offer the perfect ending to a good night for the Americans.
Kristie Mewis and Lauren Cheney pounced inside the first seven minutes to stake the Americans to a two-goal advantage. Cho Sohyun issued a response shortly before the half-hour, but Carli Lloyd's drive from distance and Wambach's 156th career goal ensured yet another victory for Tom Sermanni's side.
A rampant start from the U.S. created two goals inside the first seven minutes and punished the Koreans for their defensive uncertainty at the outset.
The first goal continued the early pattern of exploiting the suspect left side of the Korean defense after just three minutes. Sydney Leroux floated behind the line, reached the byline and smashed a low cross toward the back post. Korean goalkeeper Kim Jungmi pushed the service out in front of the vacated goal and Mewis gleefully slotted into the empty net for her first senior national team goal.
Cheney doubled the advantage shortly thereafter after the U.S. caught out the Koreans on a throw. Tobin Heath's clever heel flick played the ball to Cheney in space on the left side of the penalty area. Cheney navigated her way toward the middle of the penalty area and then skimmed a low effort inside the near post to increase the lead.
A series of passes move the ball from the right to the left. Jeoun Eunha collected on the left side of the penalty area and played an inviting pass back toward the middle. The diagonal pullback eluded several players before Cho lashed her first-time effort to finish off the move in style.
Korea continued to press for the equalizer as the second half started, but halftime substitute Hope Solo - in her first appearance since February after recovering from a wrist injury - dove to her right to push the effort around the post. Solo's intervention would prove crucial as the Americans grabbed the critical third shortly before the hour mark to provide some breathing room.
Lloyd garnered a significant reward for her decision to test the rickety Kim from distance. She controlled a pass from Heather O'Reilly, picked up her head and unleashed a low effort from all of 30 yards. The shot caught out Kim and nestled inside the far post.
The third goal provided a measure of comfort as the Americans always looked the more likely side to score after that point. Wambach (another halftime substitute) provided an aerial threat and tested the Korean defense on several occasions before eventually breaking through in second-half stoppage time.
Morgan prompted the penalty award by tempting Shim Seoyeon into a rash tackle on the right side of the penalty area. Wambach's resulting conversion offered the perfect gloss to another fine night as the Americans registered an eighth victory in 10 matches this year.