South Korea dropped to the United States 2-0 in their friendly football match in California on Saturday, in another uninspired performance in the buildup to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Forward Chris Wondolowski scored both of the U.S. goals at StubHub Center in Carson as South Korea suffered its second straight loss. Last Wednesday, South Korea was embarrassed by Mexico in a demoralizing 4-0 loss in San Antonio.
South Korea's record dropped to four wins, six losses and three draws under head coach Hong Myung-bo, who took over the squad last June.
This was the last of three friendly matches that South Korea played in the U.S. during its pre-World Cup training camp. It beat Costa Rica 1-0 in Los Angeles last Saturday before losing the next two.
The 14th-ranked U.S. got on the board before South Koreans, ranked 53rd, knew what hit them. Graham Zusi sent a cross from the right side, and Brad Davis got his foot on the ball as he fell. Jung Sung-ryong made a tough save in the South Korean net, but the rebound went right to the wide open Wondolowski for an easy header in the fourth minute.
South Korea almost drew even four minutes later, as Kim Ju-young redirected a corner with his head. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando, though, made a desperate save right on the goal line to preserve the U.S. advantage.
The South Koreans gained an upper hand in possession in the latter part of the first half but had nothing to show for their efforts. Midfielder Lee Ho launched a hard shot from the top of the arc in the 33rd that went right at Rimando.
Neither side looked particularly sharp to open the second half, but South Korea knocked on the U.S. net in the 57th minute, with Kim Shin-wook heading a cross into the arms of Rimando.
Wondolowski grabbed his second of the day at the hour mark, once again capitalizing on the shoddy South Korean defense. Following a Davis throw-in, Zusi beat defender Kim Jin-su to the ball and sent a pass toward the middle. The ball went off the foot of U.S. player Landon Donovan and right to Wondolowski, who calmly put it past Jung for the 2-0 lead.
Striker Kim Shin-wook had South Korea's best scoring chance in the 82nd minute, with a curling shot from the top of the arc that traveled just above the crossbar.
It was as close to a goal as South Korea came in the second half. It scored just once in its three matches in the U.S.
Both South Korea and the U.S. will play at the World Cup. South Korea is in Group H with Belgium, Algeria and Russia. The U.S. has drawn Germany, Portugal and Ghana. South Korea and the U.S. could meet again in the round of 16 in Brazil.
South Korean head coach Hong called up only players from South Korean, Japanese and Chinese leagues. Several South Koreans ply their trade in Europe, but clubs there weren't obliged to release their international players for the camp.
About a dozen players based in Europe and the Middle East are expected to make the World Cup roster for South Korea. That will leave about another dozen or so spots for players from the Asian leagues.
This camp was regarded as the final opportunity for such players to make an impression and cement their case for inclusion for the World Cup. For South Korea's next friendly match against Greece in March, players from European clubs are expected to take the field.
Hong has repeatedly said he won't assure any one player of a ticket to the World Cup team, and that everyone will be given a fair shot to compete for a roster spot. (Yonhap News)