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Women's World Cup

US chances take a bit of a hit in tie

Abby Wambach leaves the field with a cut in her head; North Korea scored two goals while she was being attended to. Abby Wambach leaves the field with a cut in her head; North Korea scored two goals while she was being attended to. (JULIE JACOBSON/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Blood streaming from a gash on top of her head, Abby Wambach came off the field. For 10 minutes, the United States played shorthanded while she got stitches.

North Korea didn't waste its chance.

The US team allowed a pair of goals while Wambach was off the field - one on a blunder by goalkeeper Hope Solo - then rallied for a 2-2 tie yesterday at Chengdu, China, in its opener at the Women's World Cup.

"When they scored right away as I went off I started to get worried," Wambach said. "So I started to run to the locker room to get stitches put in."

The top-ranked Americans, trying to regain the title they won in 1991 in China and 1999 at home, extended their unbeaten streak to 47 games. But playing in the toughest of four groups, they put pressure on themselves heading into games against third-ranked Sweden Friday and Nigeria next Tuesday.

Wambach, playing on a sore right toe she injured against Finland Aug. 26, put the US team ahead in the 50th minute on a rainy night. She took a pass from Kristine Lilly on the right side of the penalty area and beat Jon Myong-hui with a 13-yard shot.

Five minutes later, Wambach was defending a cross when she collided with Rik Kum Suk. Wambach fell to the ground, blood pouring from the back of her head onto her face and jersey.

US coach Greg Ryan decided not to replace Wambach.

"It was a very tough call," he said. "The doctors said they could get her back within just a few minutes. . . . I thought we could withstand playing 11 against 10."

In the 58th minute, Kil Son-hui hit a twisting, long strike that slipped through the Solo's hands, tying the score. Kim Yong-ae then pounced on a rebound in the 62d minute and shot it past Solo, who didn't have a chance.

When the crowd screamed again, Wambach knew North Korea had taken a 2-1 lead. "I was yelling at the doctors to get it done quicker. I cursed some bad words, and hurried up and got my jersey on and ran as fast as I could."

Wambach came back in two minutes later, and the US team tied it in the 69th minute when Heather O'Reilly scored her 12th goal, taking a ball in the penalty area that couldn't be cleared and putting it into the roof of the goal.

Nigeria 1, Sweden 1 - At Chengdu, Cynthia Uwak's goal in the 82d minute lifted Nigeria to the draw.

Japan 2, England 2 - At Shanghai, Aya Miyama scored off a 30-yard free kick with five seconds left, rallying Japan.

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