The United States Women’s National Team faces Germany in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday. It’s a matchup of 2nd seed US, and the top seed Germans, and this is the match all fans of the sport and the tournament wanted to see and fans have been tuning in. The US v China match drew 5.7 million viewers, the third most in history and the semi-final matchup with Germany will certainly top that. We just wanted to see it in the Final rather that the semis, we’ll get to that in a minute. In the meantime the game on its own merits sets up to be a classic, great technical offense vs. perhaps the best defense in the modern era of women’s soccer. Anchored by Hope Solo in goal, who has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that she has been worth the off the field distractions, the US has played 423 consecutive shutout minutes. This will be counterbalanced by Germany 20 goal to this point in the tournament, also among the best in history. However it should be noted that half of those came against one opponent in one game, long after they conceded defeat.
Ironically despite their offensive prowess the Germans don’t possess overwhelming talent on the outside. They don’t possess forwards like the French, that have so much speed that you live in constant fear a two-touch counter attack. But what they be technical, methodical, and slowly try to break the US down to create opportunities with set pieces, and the US will need to change the way they’ve played thus far if they hope to thwart such an attack. The US has turned the ball over way too many times in previous matches and only some stellar play from Solo and clutch defensive plays has kept their scoresheet clean. No doubt, they have been winning with their defense, so in this match if they turn the ball over they will find themselves behind early and they may not have the firepower right now to put 2 or 3 up on the board against Germany.
The United States are underdogs in a women’s soccer match for the first time since early in the zeros decade, and perhaps they will relish the underdog role. With no suspensions due to yellow cards the US will be at full strength, and it will be the Germany who will need to tone down their aggressiveness as they will be sitting on a host of yellows.
With all of the controversy FIFA has endured over the past month and will continue to do so as the bribery scandal begins to unravel, regardless of the outcome of this game the governing body will have some more questions to answer, like how are the top two seeds meeting on one side of the bracket (along with the 3rd and 5th seeds) when the host nation sits on the other side where the toughest seeds are 4 and 6? This has already been a bone of contention and will only get worse if Germany loses, as their ride to the SEMI-FINALS alone makes them go through a 5, 3, and 2 seed, and that’s before they get to the final game.
In the end, with all of the side-bars it’s building up to be one of the great games in World Cup history, not just Women’s World Cup history, and there may even be more chips in the center of the table than we’ve already discussed. When the US hosted the men’s World Cup about the time OJ was driving up the 405 freeway, it was the catalyst that launched the MLS to its current status. A win by the US women and who knows how long reaching it will go.