USA vs. South Korea: Final score 4-1, The past, present and future of the USWNT

Jared Wickerham

The U.S. Women's National Team took on the Korea Republic on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts in the first of a pair of friendlies.

Kristie Mewis, Lauren Cheney, Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach all scored for the United States and Cho Sohyun had the only goal for South Korea as the Americans rolled to a 4-1 victory.

Coming just two weeks after topping Canada in Toronto, the match against South Korea gave Tom Sermanni a chance to test some different lineups as the team continues its slow march to the 2015 World Cup. The two teams will meet again on Thursday night at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.

Mewis, playing in just her sixth match for the senior side, wasted little time making an impact in front of her hometown crowd. The FC Kansas City midfielder, playing at outside back for the national team, needed just three minutes to give the U.S. the lead, tallying her first international goal on a ball from Sydney Leroux. Mewis, a native of nearby Hanson, Massachusetts and a former Boston College standout, found herself unmarked in front of an open Korea goal, and was able to easily redirect Leroux's low rolling cross into the net.

Mewis, just 22 years old, is widely regarded as a big part of the future for the USWNT. She's one of several players who excelled in U.S. youth programs, but struggled to gain senior experience under the ever un-evolving rosters of Pia Sundhage. Since taking over in January, Sermanni has given six players their first caps at the senior side. And one more - 20-year-old Morgan Brian - was added to that list Saturday night. The University of Virginia junior earned her first cap when she replaced Cheney in the 77th minute.

But for all the talk of youth - a Leroux/Morgan forward line with Wambach on the bench for the first 45, Mewis' third start - the story ended up being mostly about the usual suspects.

If Mewis is the future, Cheney is perhaps the best example of the USWNT's present. Cheney has been around for what seems like forever, but she's only 25. Called in to replace Abby Wambach and her broken leg on the eve of the 2008 Olympics, Cheney immediately fit with Sundhage's vision for the USWNT. And when a crop of young super-strikers sprouted - Leroux, Morgan, Christen Press - Cheney still fit, just in a different place, sliding from the forward line into the midfield. While Wambach and most of the core of the USWNT fight the inevitable march of time, Cheney still has her best years ahead.

So just as it was the future - Leroux to Mewis - that netted the first goal, it was the USWNT present that found the second. Another player who's been around a while, but not as long a while as it seems - Tobin Heath - to Cheney, doubling the U.S. lead in the seventh minute.

South Korea would get one back in the 26th minute on a long shot from Cho Sohyun that beat Nicole Barnhart. The visiting side, too, has perhaps its own story about a future. A team technical and poised, but missing that one final pass, just not quite there, yet.

On the other side of the half, present and future gave way to past, with Wambach replacing Leroux and Hope Solo coming in for Barnhart. For Solo, it was her first international action since wrist surgery in March.

And so the second half was mostly the story you know. A long-range Lloyd goal - good from well above the arc at the top of the box - made it 3-1 in the 57th. Her shot was typical Lloyd, through traffic, skipping off the turf before tucking itself just between the keeper and the post.

Then it was Wambach. Coming in to Saturday's match, the 33 year-old was just three goals away from Mia Hamm's international goalscoring record of 158. Wambach had several chances on the night, but the American striker couldn't buy a goal. And then it was stoppage time, another old USWNT trope, although this time about as inconsequential as can be.

A collision between Morgan and Korea Republic captain Shim Seoyeon in the box brought the crowd of 13,035 to their feet as referee Kari Seitz signaled for the penalty kick. The U.S. would make it 4-1 thanks to the PK, as Wambach - because of course Wambach - stepped to the spot and buried it.

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