The USA will now face Japan or England, who play tonight, in the final in Vancouver on Sunday. There is little doubt that whoever the opponent is, Carli Lloyd (left above with Kelley O’Hara) will be ready.
“I want to win this thing,” Lloyd said. “Not just be a participant.”
By Barbara Harrison
To say that last night’s 2-0 USA victory over Germany was a long time coming is to totally understate the rivalry.
These two had been eyeing each other for four years. They expected to play each other four years ago at the World Cup in Germany, before the Germans went out in the quarterfinal to eventual champion Japan.
That loss cost Germany a spot in the 2012 Olympics, delaying a matchup between the world’s No. 1 and 2 teams until Tuesday night in front of 51,000 fans, most clad in red, white and blue, in Montreal.
“We had every belief we were going to win this game, and that’s the American spirit,” said head coach Jill Ellis, who has kept opponents guessing by switching formations and personnel every game.
Outplayed for much of the night by a group of U.S. women who had promised to play aggressively, Germany’s golden opportunity came in the 60th minute when Julie Johnston misplayed a ball in the air in her own penalty area, then took down Alexandra Popp as she closed in on goalkeeper Solo.
For Germans, penalty kicks are supposed to be automatic. But Celia Sasic, the leading goal scorer in the tournament, somehow sent her kick wide of the left post. As the stadium exploded, Solo quickly ran to Johnston to settle down the young defender. The Americans were alive, and deservedly so.
After an early Germany flourish, the U.S. settled in and started to hit their stride. Before the game, the Americans made no secret that they thought they had a clear speed advantage over Germany’s defense, especially on the wings, and for much of the first half they showed why.
Without a series of top-notch saves by Angerer, the U.S. would have walked into the locker room with a 3-0 lead. Johnston got her head on a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe in the seventh minute that Angerer just managed to kick away. In the 15th minute, Morgan collected a perfect through ball from Tobin Heath and broke in on Angerer, who once again managed to get one of her bright yellow cleats on the ball. A half-hour later she would need her hands, raising them as high as she could as she charged Morgan and deflected an attempt from 6 yards out.
Two years ago, Angerer became the first goalkeeper to win FIFA’s World Player of the Year. Tuesday night she proved it was no fluke.
The two top-ranked teams in the world—and the two most physical—were respectful to each other in the days leading up to the game. That ended just after the opening whistle with a series of hard fouls and collisions. Midfielders Morgan Brian and Popp clanked heads on a Germany free kick in the 27th minute. Both players were down on the turf for several minutes. Popp had a nasty gash and blood caked in her hair. German trainers bandaged her up and sent her back on the field. Brian had a quick concussion evaluation and went back too.
And as always, the U.S. defense was freakishly solid, especially for a unit that was seen as one of the team’s weaker links before the tournament. They have let up just a single goal in six games.
“We want to be consistent and be confident in the back,” said defender Ali Krieger, who had another strong night.
As the game wore on the Germans began to wilt, seemingly troubled that the game wasn’t falling to them, in large part because Lloyd wouldn’t let it.