The U.S. Women’s soccer team surpassed expectations and overthrew top-ranked Germany in a 2-0 victory on Tuesday to advance to the World Cup final.
Their next match appearance will be the fourth time that the ladies in red,white, and blue have successfully made it to the finals, winning the tournament in 1991 and 1999 before falling to the Japanese in 2011. Many viewed the U.S. as the underdogs going into Tuesday’s game but hushed those who doubted their ability to be victorious over the intimidating German team.
The first ten or so minutes of the match displayed nerves and uneasiness from both sides of the field as both teams had missed opportunities to put a goal on the board. As the first half continued the U.S. squad pulled together and showed complete dominance over their opposition.
The U.S. finally clicked as multiple strings of beautifully placed passes from the midfield tired out the already exhausted-Germans from their 120-minute semi-final win against France. The U.S. defense remained strong throughout the match, shutting down the top-scorer of the tournament Celia Sasic and the ever-threatening Alexandra Popp.
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo had her fifth consecutive shutout and the defensive end extended their goalless stretch to 513 minutes.
U.S. defender Julie Johnston appeared to grab hold of Popp’s shoulder as she entered the box in the 63rd minute, sending the 5-foot-9 German forward to the turf with a yellow card.
Sasic was called up to take the PK shot, which she shockingly missed wide left. We may never know if Solo had luck on her side or simply psyched out Sasic. The missed penalty decided not only the team’s eventual fate but ended Germany’s perfect PK World Cup record in team history.
Minutes later on the opposite end of the field, U.S. forward Alex Morgan was fouled by center back Annike Krahn — Morgan’s biggest contribution to the game — drawing a yellow card and a controversial PK.
Replays of the foul show Morgan being fouled outside of the 18 yard-box and falling inside the line. But the play drew a card and PK from referee Albon Teodora, and U.S. team captain Carli Lloyd punched the back of the net with a fireball of a shot past German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer.
With fresh pizzazz, the U.S. squad continued the pressure up top and dominated throughout the field. Though the match seemed sealed right after Lloyd’s goal, the Americans were not finished with business.
Goal number two started with Kelley O’ Hara stepping onto the pitch as a forward for Tobin Heath in the 75th minute. O’Hara darted toward goal, cutting in front of German defender Tabea Kemme to stab the Lloyd assist past Angerer, the icing on the cake for a struggling team no longer fighting to find its stride.
While it very uncharacteristic for Sasic to miss her penalty shot and for Angerer to not save the shots she usually can in her sleep, credit must be given to U.S. head coach Jill Ellis for artfully crafting her roster and deploying her subs, which allowed players to step up and create more passes and opportunities for their team.
The U.S. squad will look to carry over their new-found confidence into the Women’s World Cup final match on Sunday, where they will take on the winner of Wednesday’s Japan–England semi-final.