In a heavyweight battle between the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the world, not to mention two 2-time World Cup champions, it was almost all the US as Jill Ellis released the hounds on Germany and it resulted in an intense 2-0 victory. The Europeans did not go away easily, and made the Americans earn every moment of success, but in the end, Carli Loyd and the US Women’s National Team were too much, and they advance to Sunday’s final against either Japan or England.
US 2, Germany 0
Germany started the game strong as they pushed forward quickly for a full field press on the American defense. The US had some difficulties getting the ball out of their half at the beginning of the match on account of the aggressive Germans. Shortly into the game, a header from a cross for the Germans scared Hope Solo as she went up to the crossbar, unsure if it would dip into the goal or not. The Germans were being very aggressive and players like Julie Johnston are not used to this type of size and strength of opposing forwards thus far in the tournament.
But soon after the shot on goal, the Americans changed the pace of the game. Megan Rapinoe had a corner kick she sent to near post, which was quickly headed to goal by Johnston as the Germany goalkeeper barely got a foot on it for a save. The US continued to attack down the side line and moved the ball between German players with relative ease. Johnston created an opportunity as she managed a beautiful ball over the top to start an American attack, where it lead to a through ball down the middle of the two center backs, with Morgan shooting it straight at Angerer.
The entire first half was fast paced and never dropped down a notch. Although the first three minutes were dominated by Germany pressure, once the US got several chances on goal, the Germans packed themselves close to their own goal. Johnston was controlling the back line and even had some offensive plays throughout the first half. Nearing the end of the first 45 minutes, Morgan Brian headed the ball out of the box from a free kick, but received a hit in the side of the head from Alexandra Popp. Both players took their time on the ground and on the sideline, but returned to play.
Rapinoe had several moments in the first half by stripping the ball from several Germans, and forced Popp and other Germans to have to foul her. A second yellow card to Popp seemed inevitable, especially late in the half, but didn’t come. The defense/midfield combinations were working really well for the US as they were able to get the ball out of tight spaces with close knit passes. One of the last chances in the first half came from Alex Morgan when she performed a quick turn on her defender and bypassed another, but she shot the ball too hard and missed. The game became increasingly dangerous and physical as it neared the halfway mark.
Lloyd started the second half with a free header from a corner kick on goal, which showed that the German defense were starting to become frazzled. In the 52nd minute, Germany had a chance on goal off of a cross that was flicked onto goal, which sent Solo in a scramble to cover her far post. In the 59th minute, a random lofted ball in the air began to bounce towards the American goal. Johnston ran underneath the ball as she tried to shield it from the oncoming forward, who bypassed Johnston, giving her a reason to pull on her shoulder for a yellow card and penalty kick. Sasic stepped up to the penalty spot, took her time, and shot a ball low and on the ground, but just wide of the net. Both teams played even harder after this play with new found energy. In the 67th minute, Morgan once again had a breakaway at the German defensive as she ran straight at a player full speed, catching her leg, and finding a foul in the box for a US penalty.
Lloyd took the penalty kick and aimed for the right corner of the goal, and Angerer watched the ball sail into the back of the net as she was on the way to the ground going the opposite way. Later in the half, Tobin Heath was subbed out for Kelly O’Hara, and Germany made a sub of their own in the 77th minute when Anja Mittag came out for Dzsenifer Marozsan. The US finally put in their big gun at the 79th minute as Abby Wambach steps on the pitch for a tired Rapinoe.
Germany had some dangerous moments, and it seemed they might be able to get back into the game, but eventually, the US got the goal they seemed destined to score from the opening whistle. In the 84th minute, Lloyd dribbled through players towards the end line, cut it back and played a negative ball to the top of the box where O’Hara ran in uncontested for a volley on frame for a goal, scoring her first international goal for the US. The Germans did not let that stop their momentum as they continued to press on goal, but were never able to break through the American defense that has yet to give up a second goal in the tournament.
The US now has to watch England and Japan play on Wednesday for the right to meet the Americans in the Final on Sunday.