Understatement ahead: tonight is a big night. And, this is an op-ed piece from multiple WUFC writers. This is our first Women’s World Cup as a group too. This is the 30th day since WUFC re-launched. I both fear and eagerly await your reviews not only of the USWNT, but eventually, of us. *be kind…
Tonight’s big for soccer, for women, for the U.S. and for anyone who has been following the Women’s World Cup feverishly. Germany began their tournament with an unforgettable stomping. Japan plays so beautifully at times I just wish I could every play down and teach my own players each one. England, well, I’m afraid I’m on the fence and give them a neutral review. The U.S.? As Alex Morgan once put it, before their World Cup campaign began, “there has never been a better time than now to win it all.”
She’s correct – we’re at a precipice of sorts. A successful U.S. World Cup appearance (meaning, to win it all) will prove that all the increased media attention, the social media blitz, the expansion in sponsorships and fanfare have been worth it, that there’s more reason to pour money and time into women’s soccer development in the U.S..
Many have come to expect a level of professionalism and success from the USWNT and so far, many have been disappointed. There haven’t been score lines of 8-0 let alone 3-0. There hasn’t been an instance of completely flawless and attractive form so far in any of the matches they’ve played. And I’m sad to say I was wrong about Abby Wambach – it still hurts to worry that she will end her final national appearance (and professional soccer appearance) with a fizz rather than a million headers. But, before I sound overly critical, the US hasn’t been without moments of dazzle and creative forcefulness. These women haven’t let a single goal in since their match against Australia, and it’s not all because of Hope Solo. Julie Johnston’s finesse and diligence, which also helped her find a foothold in the team roster earlier this year, have been a pleasant surprise to fans. The U.S. didn’t lose a game in the group stage (they won four and tied Sweden 0-0). And did I already mention, they’ve only allowed a single goal? Yes, I did, but it bears repeating a few times. The lack of Rapinoe and Holiday last week meant that Jill Ellis and her team needed to re-strategize. And they did.
Against China on Friday, the USWNT revealed a lot about themselves as a team. They morphed into an attacking team, controlling most of the play. Carli Lloyd’s goal in the second half became another instance of her solid performance this Cup. Wambach didn’t start (sigh) and I begrudgingly admit, as a result, the USWNT found a glimpse of their potential on the pitch.
“I think that we’re going to be flying next game,” Lloyd said after the match ended. The pressure is on tonight. Rapinoe and Holiday are back. Eyes are on Alex Morgan to live up to her potential. It’s important to note that Holiday is one of three players on the current U.S. team to have scored in a World Cup semifinal – Morgan and Wambach are the other two. As for Germany, clearly they showed their hand against France. They are not a foolproof machine and have weaknesses to exploit. Shutting down Anja Mittag and Celia Sasic can be done. Our back line is impressive so far. As long as we don’t head into PKs tonight, and as long as we control the pace of play and force things to stay in Germany’s half, things will come up roses, or at least a single goal, which for me, is better than a rose. I can’t begin to predict an unpredictable match like tonight’s. I predict that Hope Solo will do work tonight – serious work – if at any point, the U.S. confidence drops and the midfield falls apart. Anything can and will happen. There’s a lot more at stake than just a spot in the Final. There’s a generation of girls and young women who are watching, waiting and full of their own potential to play the beautiful game.
-Chandrima (Editor, Women United FC)
Anytime the U.S. comes up against a tough opponent I have a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, and this time it’s no different. Germany have played outstanding in the World Cup (though France did outplay them) and the U.S. have been very lackluster. If the girls want to come away with the win, they are going to have to figure out a way to stop relying on Wambach. They are also going to have to outsmart Germany in every way possible. France has the right idea when they played on the ground and kept the game at a fast pace. Germany weren’t able to keep up with them, so if the U.S. can take a few pointers from France, they might be able to advance to the Finals. One other thing that I’d like to see, is Rodriguez get the start again. Her movement off the ball and her speed, plus being paired up with Morgan, can be lethal.
-Kristian Russell (USWNT writer and LA Galaxy superfan!)
This matchup is always exciting for our house because both myself and my husband are partially German in heritage. We say danke and bitte, gesundheit, and he even calls his grandma Oma. When the Red, White and Blue take on die frauenschaft (is that the female analogue to die mannschaft?), though, the black and gold jerseys rest silently in their drawers. This is, of course, because we believe that we will win.
In other news: we won’t actually be watching tomorrow’s WWC game because we’ll be attending the Houston/Colorado U.S.O.C. game. Woot!
-Kyle Rowland (Women Love Soccer reporter and overall ball of energy and sunshine!)
The U.S. and Germany have met three times before in World Cup action – twice in the semifinals, with the U.S. have it 2-1-0! The USWNT claimed a 5-2 victory in the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991 and the Germans won with a 3-0 win at the 2003 tournament, back in the United States. Tonight’s winner has a golden chance to win the World Cup for an unprecedented third time at the World Cup Final on Sunday, July 5 at 7 p.m. ET at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia.