ThINQing Out Loud: United States women win, but look shaky at World Cup

Rachel Buehler celebrates with Ali Krieger after scoring the United States' second goal against North Korea. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Based on its opening game, did the United States look capable of winning the Women's World Cup?

No verdict yet, but the early evidence raises questions. The United States deserved its 2-0 victory Tuesday over North Korea, and the first goal was terrific, based on great work from Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach, and Lauren Cheney. In the second half, the Americans looked as good as you'd have liked to have seen them play the whole way.

But a messy first half, in which a bunch of North Korean teenagers actually looked like the more sophisticated team, suggests the United States may have been playing from behind Tuesday if they were facing one of the better teams in the world.

The second half will raise the confidence level for the Americans. There won't be any panic. And I've covered enough soccer to understand each game is a separate entity. And yes, the United States gave up two quick goals in an opening loss to Norway in the 2008 Olympics, then came back to win the gold medal.

It's just hard to believe that scoring a couple of goals against North Korea means recent rickety results for the United States are put in a box. Again, that was North Korea, the youngest team in the tournament, looking more organized and more energetic in the first half. (Which, politics aside, is kind of cool.)

Yes, soccer is a 90-minute game and the Americans have a deep bench. But the defensive group in front of top goalkeeper Hope Solo may determine whether the United States, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, gets it done. That group was the best in the world when the United States won in 1999. It wasn't even the best on the field Tuesday in the first half.


Still going strong

Wayne's Lisa Raymond, easily the best tennis player this area has produced in the last quarter century, was smart enough to figure out early that her career was in doubles. At age 37, she's part of a third-seeded women's doubles team at Wimbledon, making her 18th doubles appearance there. She won in 2001 and reached the semifinals at this year's French Open, and has doubles titles at all four Grand Slams. She stopped playing singles at Grand Slam events in 2006, but already has made over $100,000 this year. Her lifetime earnings: $8.4 million.


Random questions

The biggest one: What might the Phillies bullpen look like in October? Maybe Vance Worley will be closing by then. . . . What do caddies at courses around here make for a loop these days? I got about 30 bucks plus tip for two bags 30 years ago. . . . Do Lavoy Allen's skills (great hands, high hoop IQ) equate to an NBA reserve role? Smart of the Sixers to bet on "Yes." . . . Did you notice that an eighth-grade basketball player's selection of which high school to attend made our paper this week?


Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or