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(LEAD) S. Korea hold mighty U.S. to scoreless draw in women's football friendly

All News 13:42 October 22, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS comments, photo; UPDATES with minor edits throughout)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) -- Bending without breaking, South Korea held world No. 1 United States to a scoreless draw in the first of their two women's football friendlies on American soil.

Goalkeeper Yoon Younggeul made key saves, and the visitors played some dogged defense against the American onslaught at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Thursday (local time).

The draw snapped the U.S. home winning streak at 22 matches. The last time the U.S. had failed to win at home was also against South Korea -- a 1-1 draw on Oct. 6, 2019, in Chicago.

In this Getty Images photo, Ji So-yun of South Korea (L) tries to dribble past Megan Rapinoe of the United States during their teams' friendly football match at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Oct. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

These two teams will meet again at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota, or 9 a.m. next Wednesday in Korean time.

South Korea, ranked 18th, remained winless in 14 meetings against the U.S., with four draws and 10 losses.

"It would have been better if we'd won the match, but as a goalkeeper, I am happy to have kept the other team off the scoreboard," said Yoon, easily South Korea's best player in the match. "I'd like to thank my teammates for playing so hard."

In this Getty Images photo, South Korean goalkeeper Yoon Younggeul watches a United States shot go wide of the net during the teams' friendly football match at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Oct. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea are gearing up for the 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Asian Cup, scheduled to kick off in January in India. South Korea head coach Colin Bell said earlier this week that the two U.S. matches would provide "a great test" for his players in their preparation for the continental tournament.

And at least on the defensive side, South Korea deserved high marks for their effort.

The Americans asserted their dominance early. In the 13th, midfielder Lindsey Horan hit the left post with a left-footed shot from outside the box. Six minutes later, Horan forced a tough save by Yoon with her header.

In this USA Today Sports photo via Reuters, Lee Geum-min of South Korea (C) and Lindsey Horan of the United States battle for the ball during their teams' friendly football match at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Oct. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

In the next minute, Yoon came up with another huge save on Alex Morgan's shot from close range.

South Korea's lone shot on target in the match came in the 35th minute, when Jang Selgi pounced on a loose ball with a volley that Adrianna Franch stopped diving to her right.

The U.S. didn't let up in the second half. Five minutes in, substitute Kristie Mewis had an open look from the left side of the box but sent her shot just over the net.

In the 56th, Yoon denied Rose Lavelle on a header from the middle of the box, rising to the occasion once again to keep the match scoreless.

In this Associated Press photo, Park Ye-eun of South Korea (L) and Catarina Macario of the United States fight for the ball during their teams' friendly football match at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Oct. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

The South Korean goalkeeper had a kick save and a beauty on Carli Lloyd in the 76th minute, foiling the retiring veteran's attempt at her 135th international goal in her 315th match. Yoon later called this her best stop of the match.

South Korea played the final 10 or so minutes in damage control mode, and the U.S. couldn't get one past Yoon. The Americans had 19 shot attempts to South Korea's eight and held an 8-1 advantage in shots on target.

"This was a grueling match. We were able to secure the draw because everyone played hard until the final whistle," South Korean captain Ji So-yun said.

Ji was the South Korean goal scorer in the 1-1 draw from two years ago. She said playing the U.S. "is always challenging" but added this was a different South Korean team than 2019.

"We played in front of a huge crowd, but our players weren't intimidated. We all tried to enjoy ourselves," Ji said. "If we had been a little quicker and more concise in our counterattacks, we would have been able to create better chances. We'll try to address these issues for the next match."

In their 22 previous home matches, the U.S. had outscored their opponents 91-3.

In this Getty Images photo, Lim Seon-joo of South Korea (L) fends off Alex Morgan of the United States during their teams' friendly football match at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Oct. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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