- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DRESDEN, Germany — Lauren Cheney and Rachel Buehler each scored second-half goals, and the United States opened play at the Women’s World Cup with a 2-0 victory over a young but scrappy North Korea on Tuesday.

After peppering North Korean goalkeeper Hong Myong Hui all afternoon, Cheney finally broke through in the 54th minute on a header. Buehler got the second goal of her career in the 76th minute, scoring on a right-footed strike that rolled beneath the outstretched hand of the diving Hong.

It was the fourth straight time the teams had met in group play at the World Cup, and the Americans have won all but one of the games.

Still, the victory isn’t likely to end the questions about the two-time World Cup champions, who have been uncharacteristically inconsistent lately. After going more than two years without a loss, they dropped three games in five months, and looked decidedly unsettled against the North Koreans for much of the first half.

“It’s always good going forward,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. “Two great goals, and we’re moving on.”

Despite their World Cup “reunions,” the previous games against North Korea were of little help to the Americans here. Only two of the North Koreans had played in a World Cup.