The USWNT beat Germany zwei auf null to advance to back-to-back World Cup Finals. They await the winner of England and Japan’s match today.
The US played their best game when it mattered most. Germany had been a juggernaut in Canada: averaging 26.8 shots, and 4 goals, per game. But The US’s incredible back five continued their clean-sheet-streak and held Germany to 11 shots (just 1 on frame) and, most important, no goals.
Three cheers for Jill Ellis. This blogger, for one, has been down on our coach all World Cup. I stopped by the grocery store last night to pick up some crow. After dinner, I chased that with a heaping helpful of humble pie.
Ellis was brilliant yesterday, as she finally solved the midfield puzzle. The Americans came out in a 4-2-3-1, getting five dominant midfielders together to control the engine room. Morgan Brian, a natural centermid teamed up with Carli Lloyd as the holding pair, and the pacey and creative trio of Rapinoe, Holiday and Heath worked the attack. These five pressed high, connected pin-point passes and backed up the lone striker, Morgan. This was a helluva decision by Ellis and thoroughly confounded Germany in the first half.
Ellis’s innovated tactics didn’t end with getting all her best midfielders on the pitch simultaneously. When Germany had the ball, the US morphed into a strict 4-4-1 to shut down the Nationalelf’s vaunted attack. And at times, Lloyd joined Morgan up top in a 4-4-2. We had the Germans’ heads spinning.
But going into the break tied 0-0 after dominating for the first 45 hurt. I started feeling mighty uneasy and then Germany bossed for a long first 20 minutes of the second half. The time that really tried our souls was the 59th minute. The usually stolid Johnstone pulled a streaking Popp down in the box, giving Germany an obvious penalty. Thankfully, Sasic, the Golden Boot leader with 6 goals, missed her PK wide left. I firmly believe if it was any other keeper between the pipes, a player of Sasic’s pedigree would’ve iced her penalty. Hope Solo is so all-world, she has an aura about her. Her juju stopped goals before her hands do.
After the missed PK, Germany’s fatigue from going 120 in a nail-biter against France showed. The Nationalelf got tuckered out. Lazy defending resulted in the US’s first goal. The USWNT earned their own penalty just 15 minutes later when Morgan was taken down hard on a run into the box. Ice-cold Carli Lloyd buried it to Angerer’s left. The recently subbed-on O’Hara finished the scoring with a ninja kick off an assist from Lloyd in the 84th minute.
It was one helluva win. After we beat China, all the women in white walked off the pitch looking business. After yesterday’s game this team looked like giddy little leaguers. But captain and player-of-the-game Carli Lloyd said on her interview, “We have one game left.” Going into Sunday’s Final, I have full faith in our squad and, finally, our coach.