Tuesday, June 30, 2015

USWNT puts it all together, beats Germany to make their fourth Women's World Cup Final

USA 2-0 Germany
The USA needed to play their best game of the tournament in order to have any chance at beating Germany, and that's exactly what they did. In their 2-0 defeat of the best team in the world, the USA dominated possession, frustrated Germany's attack, and got a little luck on their way to Sunday's World Cup final in Vancouver.

Germany was on the front foot the beginning of the match. They pressed the back line high and got a few got opportunities in the opening minutes. After the opening salvo, things started shifting the USA's way. They were in control of the ball and were getting some great chances. The first real one came seven minutes in on their first corner of the match. Julie Johnston got her head to the service and Nadine Angerer only barely got her toe to it. In the 14th minute, Tobin Heath played a perfect through pass to Alex Morgan, but Angerer was there to stone her Portland Thorns teammate to keep it 0-0.

Those two were the best chances of the half for either team, but the USA kept the pressure flowing for the entire time. They had six corners in total for the first half, but couldn't turn any into goals.

The second half started much like the first, Germany was on the charge and threatened a few times. The pinnacle of their success came just before the hour mark. Alexandra Popp was battling Julie Johnston for a long ball in and the American defender misplayed the bounce off the carpet. To cover her mistake, she pulled Popp down y the shoulder in the box and was called for the penalty and shown the yellow card. In truth, it should have been red for denying a clear scoring chance.

Regardless, Celia Sasic was primed to step to the spot for Germany, who had never missed a penalty in Women's World Cup history. They were 12 for 12 before Sasic shanked her attempt wide of the goal, Remember that little bit of luck I told you the USA had?

More luck came just eight minutes after the Sasic miss. Alex Morgan made a driving run on goal and was upended by Annike Krahn on the edge of the box. The referee wrongly judged the contact to have been inside the penalty area and awarded the USA a penalty. Carli Lloyd took the spot and buried her kick in the upper corner after sending Angerer in the wrong direction.

Germany was tasked with unlocking an American defense that had not allowed a goal in nearly 500 minutes of play. They were never able to find the right combination of passes to find that one goal. They took 15 shots throughout the match with only one on target. Hope Solo could have not been in the USA goal, and they still would have won this match. Despite Julie Johnston having her worst game of the tournament, the USA made the talented German attack look very, very ordinary.

A clever passing play punch the USA's tickets to Vancouver in the 84th minute. Lauren holiday stepped up and created a turnover near the halfway line. She played a long ball into acres of space that was chased down my Abby Wambach. After dancing with a defender in the corner, she played a pass to Meghan klingenberg, who found a creative pass to Carli Lloyd in the box. Lloyd beat her marker to the outside and played a picture perfect pass across the face of goal where Kelly O'Hara was streaking in to boot it to the back of the net. It was the best USA goal of the tournament, and their best team move I have ever seen.

While the USA played their best game, Germany struggled. Much will be made of the missed Sasic penalty, the bad call that gave the SUS their penalty, and manager Silvia Neid's decision to only use one substitute, the somewhat injured Dzsenifer Marozsan, when they desperately needed fresh attacking legs.

The USA got their deserved 2-0 win to send them to the World Cup Final for the fourth time in their history. They will either face Japan in a rematch of the 2011 Final or England, who is in the semifinals of any gender's World Cup competition for the first time since 1966. The USA will be favorites against either one, but more so if England pulls off the upset. I am predicting a 2-0 win for Japan tomorrow night. Kickoff is at 7pm from Edmonton. I suppose I should root for extra time so the eventual winner is more worn down, but I doubt it will happen.

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