The U.S. Women’s National Team will play its final two domestic matches of the year when it faces off against Korea Republic twice in a five-day span. The series with South Korea kicks off in Kansas City on Thursday night at Children’s Mercy Park (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and TUDN) before wrapping up on Tuesday, October 26 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota (8 p.m. ET on FS1 and TUDN) in what will be the final international match for USWNT legend Carli Lloyd.
Here are Five Things to Know about Korea Republic.
INSIDE THE ROSTER
Ranked No. 18 in the latest FIFA World Rankings, Korea Republic has called in 23 players for the two games against the USA.
Leading the way is captain and midfielder SoYun Ji, South Korea’s all-time leading scorer with 59 goals in 127 international appearances. The 30-year-old Chelsea midfielder had two goals in 19 appearances during the Blues’ title-winning Women’s Super League campaign last season and scored in the Champions League semifinal against Bayern Munich.
While Ji was the first South Korean to play in the FA WSL, she is one of three players on this roster plying her trade in Europe. Fellow midfielder Sohyun Cho currently plays for Tottenham Hotspur after spending three seasons previously at West Ham United. With 129 international appearances, Cho is the most capped player in her Federation’s history. Forward Geummin Lee has two goals on the young season for Brighton & Hove Albion and has 18 goals in 60 caps for Korea Republic.
The remaining 20 players on the roster all play their club soccer domestically in South Korea.
KOREA REPUBLIC WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Younggeul YOON (Gyeongju KHNP), 18-Jungmi KIM (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 19-Gaae KANG (Sejong Sportstoto)
DEFENDERS (8): 2-Hyojoo CHOO (Suwon UDC), 4-Sohee LEE (Hwacheon KSPO), 3-Yeonga JEONG (Gyeongju KHNP), 5-Hyeji HONG (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 6-Seonjoo LIM (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 7-Hyeri KIM (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 16-Selgi JANG (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 20-Hahnul KWON (Boeun Sangmu)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 8-Sohyun CHO (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG), 9-Minji YEO (Gyeongju KHNP), 10-Soyun JI (Chelsea FC, ENG), 13-Geummin LEE (Brighton & Hove Albion WFC, ENG), 15-Yeeun PARK (Gyeongju KHNP), 17-Youngju LEE (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 21-Seongmi KIM (Sejong Sportstoto), 22-Jeongmin LEE (Boeun Sangmu)
FORWARDS (4): 11-Yuri CHOE (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 12-Hwayeon SON (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), 14-Jiyoun SEO (Gyeongju KHNP), 23-Mijin CHO (Korea University)
SERIES HISTORY: USA vs. KOREA REPUBLIC
Korea Republic will be the 15th different opponent the USA has faced in 2021 and the second from the Asian Football Confederation, with the U.S. having faced Australia twice during the Tokyo Olympics.
The USA is unbeaten in 13 all-time meetings against Korea Republic, owning a 10-0-3 record in the overall series which dates to 1997. While the USA has played eight matches all-time in South Korea – over two Peace Queen Cup tournaments -- ironically, none of them were against South Korea. Every matchup between the USA and South Korea has taken place on American soil.
The nations met most recently in October of 2019 during the USWNT’s Victory Tour following the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which also marked the final games for former USA head coach Jill Ellis. The USA won 2-0 in Charlotte, N.C. on October 3 behind goals from Allie Long and Mallory Pugh and drew 1-1 in Chicago on October 6, with Lloyd scoring the USA’s lone goal on the day.
HEARTBREAKER FOR KOREA REPUBLIC IN OLYMPIC QUALIFYINGKorea Republic narrowly missed out on qualifying for its first Olympics, falling to China PR, 4-3, on aggregate in the AFC Olympic Qualifying Playoff. The two-legged series, which was originally scheduled to be held in March of 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, took place in April 2021 and pitted Australia against Vietnam and Korea Republic against China to determine the final two AFC teams that would join hosts Japan at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
South Korea opened the playoff at home but suffered a setback to start the series, falling 2-1 on April 8 after China converted a penalty kick in the 73rd minute.
The second leg on April 13 saw Korea Republic jump out to a 2-0 lead on the road at halftime. However, with China pulled one back in the 69th minute and, with the away goals rule in effect, the match headed to extra time. China’s Wang Shuang scored her second goal of the game in the 104th minute to send the hosts through to the Tokyo Games on aggregate, denying Korea Republic its first trip to the Olympics.
In Tokyo, China failed to advance out of the group stage while Japan lost to Sweden, 3-1, in the Quarterfinal Round and Australia lost to the USA, 4-3, in the Bronze Medal Match.
EYES ON 2023 WOMEN’S WORLD CUPSouth Korea has qualified for each of the past two Women’s World Cups and can make it three in a row should they qualify via the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. The 12-team tournament kicks off in India in late January and serves as the final stage of Asian qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Australia has automatically qualified as a co-host, leaving an additional five World Cup berths to be determined during the Asian Cup, along with two spots in the 10-team intercontinental playoff tournament to determine the last three teams for the World Cup.
Korea Republic qualified for the 2020 AFC Women’s Asian Cup by winning its qualifying group in September, beating Mongolia 12-0 on September 17, followed by a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan on September 23.
South Korea made its World Cup in debut in 2003 and then qualified again in both 2015 and 2019. Its best result came in 2015, when Korea Republic beat Spain, 2-1, in the final group stage match to advance to the Round of 16.
BELL BRINGS INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
Named as head coach for the Korea Republic in October of 2019, Colin Bell brings experience at both the international and club level to his new appointment as he looks to lead the Taegeuk Ladies to a third consecutive World Cup. Bell, who hails from England, had several head coaching stints in Germany’s Women’s Bundesliga, including a spell at FFC Frankfurt, winning the league cup in 2014 and the UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2015. From 2017-19, Bell served as head coach of the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team.