US Women Defeat Germany; Head to World Cup Final

| July 1, 2015

World Cup

MONTREAL — OK, U.S. women, finish it off.
The Americans are back in the World Cup final, a game they’ve been itching for since they went home empty-handed four years ago. It’s been 16 years since the Americans, without question the most dominant team in women’s soccer, have won the title, and you can’t begin to imagine how sick they are of hearing about it.

The Olympic gold medals are lovely, sure. But it’s the World Cup title that is the true measure of greatness, in this country and all others.

“We were talking about that in the locker room afterward, how horrible that feeling was four years ago,” Alex Morgan said after the U.S. downed Germany 2-0 to advance to Sunday’s final.

“Knowing that, having that still in the back of our minds, we can’t let it happen again.”

This is a different team from the one that lost to Japan on penalty kicks four years ago. There are new names on the roster and a new coach. Even the holdovers have changed, some at the peak point in their careers, some in the later stages.

But it is the attitude that is most noticeably different. Come so close once, you will do anything and everything to get to the top.

“Whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to work my butt off. Because I came here to win this thing, not be a participant that played in a World Cup,” said Carli Lloyd, who came up big for a third consecutive game by converting a penalty.

They’ve already won the hardest game, defeating top-ranked Germany in a match so thrilling, so hair-on-fire open it will be days before U.S. fans’ heart rates recover. The heart rate monitors the American players wear are going to need a day or two, too.

They’ve got the support, with so many fans making the trip for Tuesday night’s game the U.S. could have claimed Olympic Stadium as American territory for the day.

They’ve got the momentum, too, finally hitting upon the right style of play after three weeks of a stodgy, defensive-minded game plan that excited no one. U.S. coach Jill Ellis got especially creative for the semifinal, playing Morgan as the lone forward and moving Lloyd up behind her.

It was an inspired move, and the Americans had the Germans on their heels for most of the game.

These would be the same Germans who came into the semifinal having scored 20 goals. Yet they left with only a goose egg to show for their efforts as the Americans extended their shutout streak to 513 minutes, an unbelievable statistic.

“We got the better of the midfield,” Megan Rapinoe said. “And the defense put a big, brick wall in from of them.”

Most importantly, the U.S. women are finally showing that swagger that is uniquely American. That in-your-face, we know-we’re-the-best-and-you’re-going-to-be-sorry-when-we-prove-it attitude.

Did you see Lloyd’s face after she converted the penalty kick in the 69th to put the U.S. up 1-0? How about the icing Hope Solo gave Celia Sasic before the German was to take a penalty of her own?

Germany had never missed a penalty kick at the World Cup, and Sasic made not one, but two, in the quarterfinal against France. But Solo took her time getting set – the penalty was awarded in the 59th minute and Sasic didn’t shoot until the 63rd – and all that time to think is always going to favor the goalkeeper.

Sure enough, Sasic pulled it left and the roar that went up from the 51,176 fans could be heard all the way to the border.

Yes, the Americans got an assist from the referee. Two of them, in fact. In addition to awarding Germany a penalty, Julie Johnston should have been ejected for yanking Alexandra Popp down from behind in the box.

Lloyd never should have taken a PK because replays showed Morgan wasn’t in the box yet when Annike Krahn tripped her.

But you don’t win a title without catching a few breaks along the way.

“I f eel we have really, really good momentum going into” the final, Lloyd said. “It’s a good feeling. I have a really confident feeling in us winning it.”

The Americans have been saying all tournament that they haven’t played their best, that there was still more from them to come.

Prove it. Finish it off.

USA Today Sports

Braves Drop Another Game To Nationals
Another Seminole Football Player in Legal Trouble
Filed in: Sports
×

Comments are closed.