FIFA Women’s World Cup: US beats Germany, 2-0, to advance to final

July 1, 2015
1 Comments

MONTREAL — During its rough start to this World Cup, the U.S. women’s national football team promised that brighter days were ahead, that the sputtering attack and grinding style would give way to the beauty and prosperity that has defined the program for most of 25 years.

On Tuesday night, the second-ranked U.S. continued their ascension, defeating No. 1 Germany, 2-0, to book a place in Sunday’s championship game in Vancouver.

Carli Lloyd converted a penalty kick in the 69th minute after a questionable call, and substitute Kelley O’Hara stabbed in the clincher 15 minutes later as the United States reached the final for the second consecutive tournament and continued its quest for a first world title since 1999.

Japan, the reigning champion, and England will play in the other semifinal Wednesday in Edmonton.

The opponent “doesn’t matter,” said U.S. Coach Jill Ellis, who has been on the job since spring 2014. “One opponent stands in our way.”

With the roars of 51,176 spectators, most backing the U.S. team, reverberating inside the domed Olympic Stadium, the U.S. gave their best performance since arriving in Canada a month ago. And perhaps their best display of the year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrBYVOlwGAk

A superb first half did not translate into a lead, but they overcame a penalty kick call against them, took advantage of one awarded to them and closed down a vaunted German attack for their fifth consecutive shutout.

“We’ve been building into the tournament, and obviously this is our best performance by far in a lot of different ways,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. “We stuck to our game plan and stuck to what our coaches were telling us. We always stayed true to what we were doing and felt it was going to come together, and it felt like it did tonight.”

Until O’Hara’s goal, assisted by Lloyd, it appeared the match would be decided by a pair of second-half penalty kicks.

The U.S. defense did not yield any clear opportunities until Julie Johnston, in her only misstep of the tournament, misplayed a ball into the box and yanked down Alexandra Popp by the shoulder in the 59th minute.

“I wish,” Johnston said, “I could’ve had that moment back.”

Up stepped Celia Sasic, the World Cup’s leading scorer with six goals. Hope Solo was going to make her think about it, conversing with referee Teodura Albon and fidgeting beyond the goal line. By the time Albon placed the ball on the spot, Sasic did not look like a confident shooter.

Solo dived one way. The shot went the other way . . . and wide of the left post.

U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath, left, and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath, left, and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris celebrate winning the semi-final football match against Germany during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, on June 30, 2015. Franck Fife/AFP

About eight minutes later, Albon awarded a penalty to the U.S. team, but this one was not as clear cut as the previous infraction. Alex Morgan surged toward the penalty area. Annike Krahn blocked her path. Morgan rode up Krahn’s back and tumbled.

A foul? Maybe. But the contact had occurred before Morgan penetrated the box.

“It was clearly outside the area,” German Coach Silvia Neid said. It wasn’t Neid’s only complaint: She believed Johnston should have received a red card for denying what she thought was a clear goal-scoring opportunity on the earlier penalty call.

Unlike Sasic, Lloyd made no mistakes, striking the ball with authority into the upper right side as Nadine Angerer sprawled in the other direction for her third goal in three knockout-round matches.

To that point, Angerer was stellar. In the first 15 minutes, she made left-footed kick saves on Johnston’s header and Morgan’s breakaway.

The U.S. had done everything right in the first half, except finish their chances.

The match had taken a frightening turn when, on a German free kick, Popp drove her head into Morgan Brian’s, leaving both players in need of medical care. Popp bled profusely, while Brian was dazed for several minutes. Both returned.

The match swung back and forth on the penalty kick decisions, and the U.S. persevered.

Germany's forward Celia Sasic reacts after missing a goal.
Germany's forward Celia Sasic reacts after missing a goal attempt during the semi-final football match between USA and Germany during their 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, on June 30, 2015. Franck Fife/AFP

After taking the lead, the U.S. defense repelled every German foray. Solo did not have to make a difficult save.

O’Hara sealed the outcome — and the Americans’ fourth trip to a World Cup final in seven tries — with her first international goal.

Lloyd took the ball deep into the box before crossing to O’Hara for a leaping one-timer from close range.

“Kelley was full-steam comin’, ” Lloyd said.

“The second goal made it that much more rewarding because it’s not like we skipped by on the PK everyone can argue about,” defender Ali Krieger said. “No, we won, 2-0. We deserved it.”

Despite their history of success, the U.S. entered the match as a decided underdog. They had muddled through the group stage, struggled to put away Colombia, then made marked improvement in beating China in the quarterfinals.

“We knew we had this in us,” Ellis said. “This team had a lot of confidence. We had every belief we could win this game, and that is part of the spirit of the American player.”

© 2015, The Washington Post

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Costa Rica reduces fiscal deficit more than anticipated
Economy
661 views
Economy
661 views

Costa Rica reduces fiscal deficit more than anticipated

AFP and The Tico Times - January 22, 2019

Costa Rica closed 2018 with a fiscal deficit of 6 percent of its GDP, below the 7.2 percent that had…

This week in the Peace Corps: Jumpstarting English with Peace Corps Volunteers
Changemakers
687 views
Changemakers
687 views

This week in the Peace Corps: Jumpstarting English with Peace Corps Volunteers

Peace Corps Costa Rica - January 22, 2019

JumpStart camps led by Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) have officially begun all throughout Costa Rica. These intensive four-week English camps provide…

Costa Rica
826 views

The Tico Times Weekly Digest: Jan. 21, 2019.

Alexander Villegas - January 21, 2019

An attack in Nicaragua, our Puerto Viejo Deep Dive and a new Sele squad. These stories and more in this…