More from Sounders Nation
The USWNT are now one match away from winning their third Women’s World Cup after beating Germany 2-0 in their semifinal match, with goals coming from Carli Lloyd and Kelley O’Hara.
Germany were by no means pushovers in the game, but the US had the majority of the good play over 90 minutes, and were well worth their win.
Jill Ellis’ side adopted an entirely new formation for this encounter with the world’s #1 ranked side, playing a more attacking 4-3-3, a decision widely well received by US fans prior to kickoff. Seattle Reign star Megan Rapinoe returned to the starting eleven following her one match ban against China for yellow card accumulation.
It was clear from the first minute that this game was an entirely different beast from what the US ladies had faced so far in this World Cup, as they quickly went on the front foot and pushed the USWNT deep into their own half. The brief German dominance would soon dissipate, however, and the match quickly became a battle of two evenly-matched sides.
German goalkeeper and former world player of the year Nadine Angerer had to show her quality early on multiple occasions, pulling off massive reaction saves to deny the US an early lead through Julie Johnston and Alex Morgan, but the chances the US had managed to earn demonstrated the German defense’s inability to effectively deal with fast counters.
The US managed to put together a spell of intense pressure following a lengthy stoppage for a clash of heads between Alexandra Popp and Morgan Brian around the half hour mark, in which the German defenders seemed simply unable to get the ball out of their own box for several minutes. Unfortunately for the US, their attackers were equally unable to get a decent shot off towards goal.
When the whistle blew for halftime it seemed like a miracle that the Germans had not yet conceded, but an American goal did seem like more of a question of “when” than “if”.
The second half started much in the same way that the first did, as Germany quickly asserted themselves into the game, and exerted a dominance that would allow them a few decent goal-scoring chances.
Germany’s dominance would come to a peak in the 58th minute when young midfielder Alexandra Popp burst through the US defense only to be hauled down by Julie Johnston, earning a penalty for the Germans. The tournament’s leading goalscorer Célia Šašić would step up for Germany to take the penalty, and gave us one of the shocks of the tournament by putting her shot wide of the goal to keep the game goalless.
Shortly after, the US earned a penalty of their own through a poor call from referee Teodora Albon when Alex Morgan was blocked by German central defender Annike Krahn. While the coming together was a clear foul against Germany, replays showed equally clearly that the contact occurred outside the box, and should have been a free kick rather than a penalty kick. Regardless, Carli Lloyd stepped up for the US and smashed her penalty into the top right corner to give the USWNT a 1-0 lead.
With the Germans forced to commit bodies forward in search of an equalizer, Carli Lloyd broke down a desperate German defense in the 84th minute, squaring the ball across goal to Kelley O’Hara, who bundled the ball into the net to double the US’ lead, and ultimately send the US past Germany by a score of two goals to zero.
The USWNT now have a chance to win the 2015 Women’s World Cup this Sunday in the final against the winner of the other semifinal, either reigning champions Japan or surprise package England. If Japan advances past their European opposition tomorrow, it will set up a rematch of the 2011 final, which they won on penalties. If England advances however, the US will face arguably the best-managed team of the tournament, who have managed to beat both Norway and hosts Canada on their way to the semifinals thus far.
Regardless of who else is in the final, the US will certainly be looking to win their third Women’s World Cup just north of the border in Vancouver.