They were struck by lightning.
The U.S. beat North Korea 2-0 today in the opening match of the Women's World Cup Group C. Nevermind that the U.S. is top-ranked and, as far as people who write about sports are concerned, it appears to have been a pretty decent match.
The real reason behind the North Koreans' lack-luster performance was, as coach Kim Kwang Min said at the post-match press conference, that "more than five" players had been struck by lightning.
Not during the match mind you, someone surely would have noticed. But three weeks ago.
"On 8 June our players were hit by lightning," Kim said. "More than five" were hospitalized, and "the goalkeeper and the four strikers were most affected and some midfielders as well."
Needless to say, Kim continued, the players were not at 100 percent and as a result "their strategy could not be implemented" today.
It wouldn't be the first time that lightning struck a soccer team, actually. (Back in 1998, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, lightning wiped out 11 players in one fell swoop.)
It would just be the first time that lightning struck the North Korean women's soccer team.
In that particular place.