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USWNT enter World Cup semifinal vs. Germany full of confidence


Photo by Michael Chow/USA Today Sports


For the first time in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Team is set to enter a match as the underdogs.

After knocking off China in the tournament’s quarterfinals, the USWNT will face its toughest test yet on Tuesday night in a match-up with Germany that pits the world’s top two teams against one another .

Ranked as the world’s second best team, the USWNT heads into Olympic Stadium in Montreal not favored to beat Germany. However, the Americans believe that their tournament run has demonstrated that they have what it takes to win any game so long as they play to the best of their abilities.

“This is the No. 1-ranked team in Germany versus the No. 2-ranked team in the United States,” said goalkeeper Hope Solo. “It’s not what Germany can bring, because they’re going to bring it. They’re great in all aspects of the game. They’re organized in defense and hard to break down, and they know how to attack and possess the ball.

“I can talk all day about the strengths that they bring, but ultimately it’s about how we play. We learned that in the last game against China. If we play our game, it doesn’t matter who we play. We will come out on top. Right now, our team is in a great place in believing in ourselves and we know it’s about us, not about any other opponent.”

For the Americans to stand a chance against Germany, they will have to once again rely on a defensive unit that has proven to be among the best in the tournament.

Led by the centerback duo of Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn, the U.S. has allowed just one goal all tournament and none since the opening game. However, that backline will now be facing a much different animal than the Chinas and Colombias of the past, as Germany provides a threat unseen by the U.S. to this point.

Germany has impressively scored 20 goals through five games at the World Cup, with 10 of those coming in the group stage clash against the Ivory Coast. As could be expected, the Germans enter the contest boasting the tournament’s two highest scorers, as Celia Sasic and Anja Mittag have scored six and five goals, respectively.

The showdown with Germany will provide yet another oppotunity for the U.S. to show off the team’s defensive prowess.

“I’ve said it all along that you have a young player like Julie Johnston who was ready for the big stage,” Solo said. “She was ready for this type of tournament. She’s come a long way in the last year, and you put her along someone calm like Becky Sauerbrunn and it creates the perfect mix.

“Obviously, our wingers are incredible, but it’s not good enough yet, and that’s the exciting part. We still have two more games, and it doesn’t matter what we’ve done to this point. What matters is what we do against German and hopefully onto the final.

Added Johnston: “There’s more tournament left. It’s definitely the motivation that we wanted, but we have to remain focused. We’re playing Germany, a very, very good team. They’re not just ranked No. 1 just because. They’re a very good team and we respect them highly. Now, it comes down to us and we have to perform.”

The key to performing for the U.S. will be its attack, a unit that has sputtered throughout the tournament. Now facing off with German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, arguably the world’s best in net, the USWNT’s forward line will likely have to reach a new level to best an organized and disciplined German side.

Missing two key pieces in Lauren Holliday and Megan Rapinoe last time out, the USWNT put forth perhaps the team’s most fluid performance against China, cruising to a 1-0 lead while creating a variety of scoring chances.

While Rapinoe and Holliday will likely slot right back into their spots out wide and in the midfield, questions remain about who should start up top for the American

Genrally utilizing Abby Wambach up top, Ellis could opt to go with Amy Rodriguez again after the forward proved dangerous against China’s backline. Another option Ellis could go with is to start Christen Press next to Alex Morgan, whose spot is all but assured given her recent return to form.

Regardless, the U.S. faces a challenge yet to be seen when it comes into Tuesday’s match. It will not be easy, but the Americans are counting on their mentality, experience, quality, and confidence to get the job done.

“I think it’s just ultra-focus, excitement and enjoying it too at the same time,” said Holliday. “That’s where we’re at right now. We’re in the semifinals of the World Cup. We can celebrate that, but also it’s not good enough. “


  1. Per ESPNFC the U.S. starting XI is: Solo, Klingenberg, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Krieger, Holiday, Brian, Lloyd, Heath, Morgan, Rapinoe. I’m picturing 4-2-3-1 with Holiday and Brian sitting in front of the back line. It’s an attacking set-up for the U.S. This should be entertaining.

  2. I like Heather O’Reilly’s speed and believe she could make a difference late in the game when the defense tires. I wouldn’t mind her starting, but do not see it happening.

    • I love HAO’s heart and work rate, but her play is too predictable. She can come on as a sub for an outside back in the 65th minute or so; that would be the best opportunity for her to have a positive impact on the game.

  3. So often in soccer, it is not the best team that triumphs, but the team that plays best. That was evident in the US men’s last two games and it will be tonight.

    Sometimes stuff happens, France outplayed Germany and was probably the better team despite the rankings, yet Germany prevailed.

    Predictions are meaningless at this point (except for bragging rights as in “I called it”). We will learn tonight which team advances.

  4. carli is too big a scoring threat and is a bad-ass monster on the field. we need her leadership, physicality and game-changing capabilities v. germany. i’ll take 3 giveaways for one goal any day.

    • She had a lot more than 3 giveaways against China. A better team, like Germany, will convert those turnovers into goals. Having said that, barring an injury, it is extremely unlikely that the coach would bench her.

  5. If Ellis were smart, she’d go with what worked last time and forget about slotting Holiday back in. She had multiple games to do anything and didnt. Move on, there are no more chances without a win today. That being said, I have no confidence that Ellis will do anything but the same ole, same ole. It will be interesting to see what she rolls out

    • Swap Holiday for Llloyd. Carli was a turnover machine against China, just imagine how many she’ll give away against Germany.

      • Also agree. As soon as she scored she lost the plot and got super careless (tired, too, maybe)? Have Holiday attack with Brian in front of the center backs. She deserves to start this game.

  6. Please don’t play Rapinoe. I compare her to beckham, they are fun to watch and have great skill…but both kill the fluidity of attack. Trot out the same lineup as last time and stop pandering to the vets. Thanks for what they done but there time is up. There’s a reason the USMNT weren’t trotting out Waldo at age 35. IF Amby is in the starting 11 it’s over

  7. I’m sorry but Kelly OHara has not gotten enough credit for what she brought to the team last game. All the kudos went to ARod for her speed and hi pressure, and Brian for filling in for an out of form Holliday, but imo the game changed when KOH went out with the busted nose… not when Abby came in for 5 minutes.
    Hate to say it, but I’d start KOH on the right again, Pinoe on the left, and bring Tobin off the bench

    • Agree. People may not know this, but O’Hara was a forward at Stanford and thus has some of the best balance on the team between attacking and defending. She added tremendously to the team’s effort against China. I hope Ellis keeps her in the line-up, as well as going with speed up top–any combination of Morgan, Leroux, A Rod or Press should work; they should be able to exploit the space between the German mids and D when the mids push too far forward and don’t recover quickly enough; that’s where some of our best opportunities might develop. Go USA!


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