July 4, 2015
That truly was one of most entertaining soccer matches I have ever seen. I have seen plenty of soccer matches but I can never call myself an aficionado. Something about international soccer and especially the World Cup that keeps me glued to the television. It has nothing to do with the USA and being a patriotic thing, but the level of play that has an intensity that cannot be matched by few other sports. I have never been to a World Cup event yet but it’s certainly on my list of sporting events that I have to see in my lifetime. I cannot help noticing there is a difference in the emotional level of the women’s game versus the men’s game. I think was the women’s soccer’s games bring out the younger fans, especially girls and when I see them in the stands. I just think of all of soccer parents in their SUV’s spending countless hours bringing their girls to games and practice.
The matchup with Germany was supposed to be a contrast in styles. The Germans were the highest scoring team in the World cup tourney against the top defense of the Americans. Germany the number ranked team in the World against number two USA. The intensity level lived up to the billing, but the level of play did not.
The US women from the start of the match dictated the pace and flow of play. They pushed the ball deep into the German defense, keeping the pressure on their defenders. The passing was cleaner and appeared to have a game plan intact. On the defensive end, the Americans were able to keep a solid ball hawking set of defenders that were forcing Germany to make higher risk passes. The coaching staff of the US must have done a lot preparing and looking at film to see the Germany tendencies. But, with that said, the number one team in the world didn’t have an answer.
The game of course changed on fate of the two penalty kicks that had controversial written all over them. The first being the penalty on Julie Johnston who fouled Alexandra Popp by bringing her down in the box at the 59th minute. Johnston received the yellow card but most of us agree it should have been a red card because she was the last defender between her and the goalie. That set up a penalty shot with their star and leading scorer Celia Sasic. Everything unfolded perfectly as Hope Solo broke to the left and Sasic kicked to right. The low shot went wide right of the goal by three feet. This was Germany’s first penalty shot miss in over twenty something shots. Even with the smothering US defense, the Germans had their fate in their own hands as this was a game changer and momentum shifter.
The second penalty came ten minutes later by the US, but again not without a head scratcher officiating call. Alex Morgan had her path obstructed by German defender, Annike Krahn on the edge of the box. Replays clearly show the contact well before the line of the box. The US called on Carli Lloyd to take the penalty shot against the German goalie, Nadine Angerer. Like Solo, Angerer broke left to goal but Lloyd buried a line drive into the net on the right side. The US did score another goal at the 84th minute with Lloyd brilliantly driving a ball from the right end across toward goal for a Kelly O’Hara tap in.
The story that must told is the way the US woman looked like a cohesive team with better playmaking and passing. The Germans passing was not effective and seemed at times desperate. They did not play like a number one ranked team but credit to US for forcing those errors. Lastly, the US woman looks like a team peaking at the exact right time. The offense which was once the worry now appears to have some aggressive playmaking paying off. Now that Japan is looming for the championship and the world watching, the US team looks geared and poised to get the job done.