US SoccerUS Soccer

First Person w/ Lori Chalupny

After an intense, gut-wrenching and extremely entertaining match to open the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, U.S. midfielder Lori Chalupny chatted with about her thoughts on the USA’s 2-2 draw with North Korea.

“I think that was a match of two great teams and a great show for women’s soccer. It was up and back, no rest for either team. I am sure it was a fun game for the fans to watch and so exciting. To get to play in a game like that was a thrill and definitely something I will remember forever.

Being my first World Cup game, the nerves were definitely flowing before the game, but once the whistle blew, I didn’t really hear the fans or think too much about the magnitude of the moment.

I think right off the bat we got a sense of what we already knew about North Korea, that they were really good in possession and really confident on the ball. I think the teams were feeling each other out through the first 15 minutes, and really, the entire first half.

We both had some good chances. Abby’s header got cleared off the goal line and they had some close class. I had a good chance early in the game when (Kristine Lilly) played me a nice pass. I tried to get my first touch past the defender, but there was another defender closing so I couldn’t get a good strike on the ball.

Going into halftime, we felt good. We felt like we would get some good chances in the second half and we needed to keep going at them. A lot of teams have been able to stay with us for 50-60 minutes, so we had the mentality that we just needed to keep attacking and try to break them down. What we found out is that North Korea is not most teams.

Once Abby got the goal early in the second half, I thought we settled down a bit started to control the game a bit more, and then Abby went down with the head injury and we had to make some tactical changes. We gave up two, I guess I would them, unfortunate goals.

Even then, we still felt fine. We still had plenty of time to comeback and I think the true character of this team came out. We were going to do whatever it took to get a goal. No one hung their heads. Losing wasn’t an option. We felt we were going to find some way to get it back.

On the tying goal, I got the ball on the left side and I played Lil on the wing. She crossed it and it kind of bounced around to Heather, who hit it with the outside of her right foot. At first it looked like the trajectory was going to take it way wide, but it stuck right in the corner. It was an awesome goal and hugely important for us. Honestly, it brought a sigh of relief.

North Korea was one of the best teams I’ve ever played against. Of all the games I’ve played for the full National Team, I can’t think of a better team. They were so organized defensively and got all of their players behind the ball as soon as we won it. Offensively, they were just so skillful, quick and crafty on the ball that it was hard to win it from them. They were definitely fit. They were getting up and down the field like crazy.

At the end of the game, I didn’t really know how to feel. I was really happy that we came away with a tie after being down. We rallied and came back, but obviously we want to win. But I was very proud of the way the team handled it. Now, we have to take care of business against Sweden.”