Wambach leads U.S. past North Korea, 1-0

Posted: August 02, 2012

MANCHESTER, England - Abby Wambach became the first non-British woman to score a goal at Old Trafford. She and her teammates celebrated by coercing Hope Solo to get on the ground and do "the worm."

There were other such moments unfamiliar to the venerable home of Manchester United on Tuesday, when chants of "U-S-A!" echoed for the Americans' 1-0 win over North Korea in front of 29,522 fans - easily the largest crowd ever to occupy the familiar red seats for a women's game.

"The worm at Old Trafford! Are you kidding me?" Solo said.

The victory gave the U.S. team first place in its group with three wins in three games, the first time the Americans have ever swept their group opponents in Olympic play.

They were already assured a berth in the next round entering the game, and they'll now move on to Newcastle for a quarterfinal match on Friday against New Zealand.

Although claiming to be a reluctant participant, Solo and captain Christie Rampone of Point Pleasant, N.J., flopped to the ground after Wambach's goal in the 25th minute.

The other nine players joined hands, wriggled their arms like a giant worm and pointed to the pair of players doing the funky dance move from the 1970s and '80s.

"Hope doesn't get involved in the celebrations very often," Wambach said.

"And so we wanted to get her involved, and she said the worm is one of the things that she can contribute, so we kind of planned it out before the game. Thankfully we got the goal so that we could actually display it."

Old Trafford had hosted only domestic women's games previously. The last one was an FA Cup final in 1989 that drew less than 1,000 fans.

"You think of the great players that have played out there before us, and the goals that have been scored," defender Amy LePeilbet said. "It's one of the highlights of my career."

The North Koreans finished with a 1-2 record in the group and still had a chance to advance, but they were eliminated later in the day when New Zealand claimed the final quarterfinal berth with a win over Cameroon.

With a place in the next round assured, U.S. coach Pia Sundhage had her players take it easy in the second half, slowing the pace of play to keep the legs fresh for the quarterfinals.

North Korea nearly capitalized with a tying goal, producing several scoring threats in a three-minute stretch that forced Solo to the ground twice.

"There were times when we could have possessed the ball better," Sundhage said. "We were a little bit naive, naive in the middle.

"I can see the players want to do some great things out there - it is the Olympics - but sometimes we could have been a little bit smarter and kept the ball."

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