It was Cheney's 14th goal in her 40th appearance for the United States.
"When Lauren scored that goal, it's obviously kind of like the monkey off your back," Wambach said.
The Americans practically camped themselves on North Korea's side of the field, with Wambach hitting the crossbar in the 65th and Amy Rodriguez putting a shot wide in the 73rd before Rachel Buehler scored the insurance goal in the 76th minute. A shot off the crossbar ricocheted back into the scrum and Carli Lloyd collected the ball and headed it to Buehler, who unleashed a monster strike with her right foot. Hong dove and stretched out her hand, but she never got close and the ball rolled into the net.
It was the second goal of the defender's career.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to build confidence off this win," Buehler said.
The Americans have heard plenty of criticism about their uncharacteristic inconsistency these last few months. After going more than two years without a loss, the U.S. dropped three games in five months. The Americans were stunned in the semifinals of regional World Cup qualifying by Mexico, a team that had been 0-24-1 against its northern neighbor. The U.S. had to win a home-and-home playoff with Italy just to get to Germany.
The United States lost to Sweden in the Four Nations opener, though it did go on to win the tournament, and was beaten by England for the first time since 1988.
But the Americans insisted they would be fine once the tournament started, and their victory over North Korea only reinforced that.
"It doesn't matter what happened in the past," Wambach said. "It's all about what's happening in this tournament, and that's what we're focused on."
PST: With the 2012-13 season in the books, take a look at which players underperformed, weren’t worth the hype and proved to be pretty bad buys for their sides.
PST: The 20th MLS franchise, the New York City Football Club, will have some well-heeled backers in the Yankees and Manchester City.
Going for the Cup
Take a look at each match during the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany.
Beckham says bye
Images of David Beckham's celebrated soccer career, both on the field and off it as a global icon.
Video: Soccer from NBC Sports
The Hype: Is there room for two MLS teams in New York?
Michele Beadle and guests weigh in on New York City FC, a partnership between English Premier League club Manchester City and Major League Baseball's New York Yankees. Is the instant crosstown rival to the Eastern Conference-leading New York Red Bulls a lucrative-only idea?
Latest from ProSoccerTalk
Poor Strama, Allegri: Inter, AC Milan leave coaches in limbo1 hr 23 min ago
With PSG willing to match Wayne Rooney’s wages, Manchester United has somebody to bail them out4 hr 57 min ago
Sauerbrunn, Quon, and why its still too early to see NWSL’s influence on Sermanni’s choices6 hr 27 min ago
Just for kicks: Soccer WAGs
Take a look at soccer wives and girlfriends from all over the world.