Like millions of others, I’ve watched the United States Women’s National Team play three group stage matches along with knockout stage matches against Colombia and China at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. I didn’t recognize the team that took to the pitch against Germany. And that’s a very good thing. Facing their greatest challenge yet at this year’s World Cup, Die Nationalelf, the Americans delivered their greatest effort of the tournament so far. They came out in the first 45 playing with renewed pace and vigor. The only problem was their continued inability to convert chances. Alex Morgan was in full attack, creating opportunities but the ball wasn’t finding the goal. A lot of that can be credited to German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer. Her saves kept Germany in the match at halftime. Possibly the moment of the match came after Julie Johnston was called for a penalty, giving Germany a penalty kick. Germany has never…NEVER…missed a penalty kick in Women’s World Cup play, going 12 for 12. Oops, my bad. Make that HAD never missed a penalty kick as now they’re 12 for 13. Did Hope Solo freeze Celia Sasic with some crafty stall tactics? We’ll never know, but whatever the case may be Sasic hooked it from the moment it left her foot. Solo had committed the other way. It was potentially a catastrophic moment for the Americans. If they had trailed Germany in the second half, there would have been all kinds of negative ramifications. Instead, on a questionable penalty kick against Germany roughly ten minutes later, created by a foul on Alex Morgan in the box (or at least that’s what the officials said), captain Carli Lloyd beat Angerer to put the USA up 1-0 in the 69th minute. Look, I’m an American. I root for the US Women’s National Team. Contact was initiated outside the box, in my eyes. But the goal counted and the match played on. In the 84th minute, 9 minutes after Kelley O’Hara subbed in for Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd assisted on an insurance goal by O’Hara, putting the Americans up 2-0. Whether it’s England or Japan in the final on Sunday, if this American squad shows up…I have a good feeling. If the squad that showed up in the first 5 games (particularly the first 4) shows up…well, I always have hope.
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