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U.S. begins World Cup with a win; North Korea shocked ... 3 weeks ago

Lightning strikes a tower during a thunderstorm in

Lightning strikes a tower during a thunderstorm in the region of Zurich, Switzerland, early Thursday, August 12, 2010. Photo Credit: AP

The United States women's national team began the 2011 World Cup with a 2-0 win over North Korea Tuesday at Dresden, Germany.

The result was expected, but what North Korea's coach said after the game wasn't. 

Head coach Kim Kwang-min reportedly said that his defense wasn't at its best because they were struck by lightning three weeks ago. Seriously. 

"When we stayed in Pyongyang during training there was an unexpected accident so our team was not capable of playing," Kwang-min reportedly said after the loss. "Our players were hit by lightning during a training match. More than five were hospitalized. The match was on June 8."

Can this be true? I don't necessarily doubt it happened, it just seems odd to bring it up after a loss. The North Koreans actually came out strong and held the Americans scoreless in the first half. I've never been struck by lightning (knock on wood), so I don't know how it would affect my second-half defense, so I'll reserve judgement. 

After the break, goals from Lauren Cheney (54th minute) and Rachel Buehler (76th) helped the Americans earn the three points with help from assists by Abby Wambach -- the 53rd of her career -- and Carli Lloyd. 

The U.S., which has won two of the five women's World Cups since its inception in 1991 and is ranked No. 1 in the world, takes the early lead in Group C and will play Colombia in its next game Saturday at 11 a.m. Its final game will be against Sweden next Wednesday.

“It feels great to have been playing the first 45 minutes, do some changes at halftime and come out even stronger than the first half against a very strong team in North Korea," head coach Pia Sundhage said. "I’m very happy with the way we scored the goals but not only that, the way we played, being so sharp defending. It’s a good start to the World Cup.”

The Women's World Cup began Sunday, when favorites Germany defeated Canada, 2-1. Germany is the two-time defending champion and is hosting the tournament for the first time. The U.S. last won in 1999, prevailing in a memorable penalty kick shootout over China in the final.

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