By Samantha Gignac
In the seven games that the U.S. Women’s National Team has played in Foxborough, Mass., they have not given up a single goal. The U.S. will be looking to continue this streak in their game against Korea Republic, which takes place Saturday, June 15, at Gillette Stadium. The game at Gillette will be the first of two matches between the U.S. and Korea Republic. The second will be on June 20 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
These two teams have only played six times before, but in these six games the U.S. has outscored Korea Republic, 22-2, and currently holds the series lead of 5-0-1. However, despite these statistics, the last three games played between the two countries have been much closer, with the U.S only outscoring Korea Republic by three goals. The Korea Republic team has greatly improved over the last couple of years, and the U.S will not come out victorious without playing at the top of their game.
In January, Korea Republic upset Canada, 3-1, in a game during the Four Nations Tournament in China. Korea Republic is ranked No. 4 in the Asian Football Confederation and No. 16 in the FIFA World Rankings. Their best player is Ji Soyun, who scored in the game against Canada and also plays for the top team in Japan’s L.League, 2012 champions INAC Kobe.
Many of the other players on the Korea Republic roster play for Hyundai Steel, which is one of the strongest teams in the WK-League in South Korea. There is a mix of veteran and young players on Korea Republic, including their seasoned goalie Kim Jungmi as well as their backup keeper, Yoon Youngguel, who has never played in an international match.
For the U.S., Head Coach Tom Sermanni chose 23 players to his training roster for the matches against Korea Republic. Eighteen of these players will be chosen to suit up for each game. On the roster are 18 of the 21 players who trained in Canada earlier this month, including a pair of Breakers, midfielder Heather O’Reilly and forward Sydney Leroux.
During the 2013 USWNT season, Leroux has played in eight games and scored three goals. O’Reilly has played in seven games this year, and in 186 international matches with 36 goals for the U.S. heading into this game. Many Boston fans will be in attendance at Saturday’s game to watch Leroux and O’Reilly represent the U.S.
The game at Gillette will also have special significance for midfielder Kristie Mewis, who grew up about 30 miles southeast of Foxborough. The Hanson, Mass. native also played for Boston College where she was First Team All-American. So far, Mewis has played in five international matches for the USWNT. The game versus Korea Republic will be the first time she is playing in Massachusetts as a member of the U.S Senior National Team.
Regardless of their roots, everyone on the U.S team will be wearing the Boston Strong logo on their jerseys and warmups. The Boston fans that will fill Gillette Stadium on Saturday are going to be looking to their national team to find victory for the U.S. However, both teams will want to come away with a win so they can go into their match on the 20th with the upper hand.