June 30, 2015

U.S. Defeats Germany, Advances to Women's World Cup Final: In a meeting of the world's top two FIFA-ranked teams, the United States defeated Germany 2-0 in the Women's World Cup semifinal and advances to the final for the second straight cup. Germany had a chance to take the lead in the second half but missed the first penalty kick in the team's WWC history. The U.S. got a penalty of its own shortly afterwards and Carli Lloyd scored. Lloyd had an assist on the second goal with a pass scored by Kelley O'Hara.

posted by rcade to soccer at 03:21 PM - 17 comments

I hope that Coach Ellis was not providing advance rationale for giving Wambach major minutes with that comment. Ellis will need to be at her very best and most intuitive (if she is capable of that) with the roster management for this match.

I would not play Heath much if at all. She lacks the required fortitude to go up against the German midfield and backline. Also would not start Rodriguez. Her speed translates into pressure more than it translates into opportunities. Krieger should be ordered to ignore the temptation to send long balls forward.

posted by beaverboard at 04:11 PM on June 30, 2015

I liked Heath against China. Lots of high-energy play and she was good at creating in traffic.

Wambach is so slow now it's hard for me to watch. She was my favorite U.S. player on either team for several years.

posted by rcade at 06:55 PM on June 30, 2015

Beautiful pass by Heath to Morgan in the 13th minute. Thought the U.S. had the lead but Angerer was too good.

posted by rcade at 07:16 PM on June 30, 2015

I wonder if Rapinoe was overselling those two collisions near the end of the first half.

posted by rcade at 07:50 PM on June 30, 2015

It's a good thing that Lloyd > O'Hara goal happened, otherwise the Germans would have a few things to complain about re: both PKs.

Gotta wonder how the game would've turned out if Sasic had put that penalty on the goal. I'm still not convinced the USWNT is all that great relative to other teams we've seen over the years, but with Germany, France, and Brazil out...who knows. They do have a staunch backfield.

posted by Ufez Jones at 09:08 PM on June 30, 2015

This has to be considered the best defensive team the USWNT has ever fielded, or close to it. The team puts a lot of pressure on an opponent when its scoring opportunities are shut down so quickly. Germany kept making terrible final kicks, which suggested to me it was feeling the pressure.

The takedown by Julie Johnston that gave Germany its penalty kick probably should have been a red card. The penalty earned by Alex Morgan looked like one that would've been called outside the box 9 times out of 10 in the Premiership. If there's a word in German for a profound sense of outrage, it's going to be used a lot on Twitter tonight.

posted by rcade at 09:15 PM on June 30, 2015

The Fox Sports 1 postgame show aired the 1999 World Cup Final highlights where Brianna Scurry stopped a penalty kick and Brandi Chastain scored the legendary shirt-doffing winner. Seeing it again, I was shocked by how far Scurry moved off her line before the China player struck her PK attempt. She takes a step and a half forward before the block, as you can see at 8:47 in the YouTube link.

posted by rcade at 10:42 PM on June 30, 2015

Those may have been some slightly dodgy PK calls at both ends, but the US was still the better team tonight and played their best game of the tournament. Plus, remembering back to this heartbreaking play from 2002--a day when the US again had the better side and deserved to win, Germany had it coming. The karate kick goal by O'Hara to seal it was also outstanding!

posted by bender at 11:04 PM on June 30, 2015

Good work by the American women. Yes, Germany probably got jobbed on some calls (Johnston could/should have been sent off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (although the German player did go to ground rather easily) and the foul on Morgan was marginally outside of the box), but the U.S. probably deserved it on the balance of play.

rcade's comments re Rapinoe at the end of the half notwithstanding, one thing I noticed in watching the game was the lack of cynicism in the women's game -- just a lot less embellishment and time-wasting when compared to men's soccer.

posted by holden at 01:03 AM on July 01, 2015

In hindsight, Australia's goal against USA in the group stage was one of the significant accomplishments of the Matildas' campaign.

I'm not sure that USA would have fared as well against France in the semi-final. France really found themselves after their bitter loss to Colombia. I would have loved to see Thomis and Delie test the USA backline. It's not just their size and speed, but also their fitness that makes them such a challenge to defend.

Disregarding all loyalties, I would have enjoyed watching a France-Japan final.

posted by beaverboard at 01:20 AM on July 01, 2015

I thought maybe Johnston's hand was on the shoulder but not applying any real pressure. Not the smartest move but when the German went down the ref didn't have much choice. IF the ref saw it that way as well, it might explain the yellow as opposed to red. It easily could've been a red though and I think we were a bit lucky on both PKs. I can see why the ref gave the second one as I thought she was a yard into the box watching live. And I too would've liked to see how we handled France.

posted by Ricardo at 08:44 AM on July 01, 2015

Anyone mention the German defender who had Alex Morgan wrapped up with both arms near the end of the first half? Also could have been a penalty. The refereeing had been really questionable all around.

And yes, it is wonderful to not see all the diving, embellishment, and general childishness that is in the men's game. I think part of it is the different standards int he women's game, and part of it is that they are playing on turf and no one wants to go to the ground unless absolutely necessary.

posted by mbd1 at 09:21 AM on July 01, 2015

Also, it seems as though there has been a bit of an increase in handballs throughout the tournament, which I had partially attributed to the ball's speed and behavior on the livelier playing surface. Some of the refs have not called handballs on a consistent basis.

One more reason to be angry with FIFA: on some plays where a foul clearly occurred and the refs clearly did not make the correct call, replays were not made available to Fox and others broadcasting the matches live. On more than one occasion, Fox announcers mentioned that FIFA had chosen not to make a replay available for a certain critical play. All in the name of preventing FIFA and the tournament from appearing to be all the more poorly administered, one assumes. I think that falls under FIFA's "protecting the integrity of the game" fairy tale.

posted by beaverboard at 10:14 AM on July 01, 2015

one thing I noticed in watching the game was the lack of cynicism in the women's game -- just a lot less embellishment and time-wasting when compared to men's soccer.

My wife and I were talking about that watching the past two USWNT games. mbd1's theory is one that didn't come up, but I have to admit it has some merit.

We kind of reached the conclusion that, because of the history of women's athletics being dismissed, that the women play with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. What better way to send a nice, loud "fuck you" to the detractors of women's sports than to play the game clean and tough? I've seen plenty of good, solid tackles that actually send the ball carrier to the ground, and most often, she jumps right back up and into the play. Kudos, ladies. I enjoy the men's game immensely, but like holden said, the flow of the women's games has been a refreshing change.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:38 AM on July 01, 2015

I love the general lack of diving and theatrics in the women's game. The dubious tumbles by Rapinoe I noted last night struck me as an outlier.

My impression is that women are more likely to want to appear tough enough for the physicality of the game, so they don't engage in operatic contortions like the men. I love how many times they don't topple on contact and leap right back up after being knocked down.

But it could be a cultural issue unrelated to gender. If some top women's players start getting an opponent carded when they get a little nudge and fall down like a sniper got them, this tactic may become legitimized.

It's not like they don't play to the refs sometimes. Remember the Canada goalkeeper in the past World Cup getting a penalty kick for the U.S. because of slow play? Abby Wambach had been counting the seconds out loud all match long when the keeper held the ball. It was an incredible example of working a ref.

posted by rcade at 12:10 PM on July 01, 2015

Did anyone else catch this recent ESPN video segment of the Rapinoe-to-Wambach header in 2011? Epic.

posted by rcade at 12:14 PM on July 01, 2015

I agree with the comments about a better flow when the players aren't rolling around theatrically after minor collisions - real or imagined. However, I find I've been a bit frustrated by the lack of fine ball control skills by many players in the competition: inaccurate passes leading to avoidable loss of possession and balls going out of play or lazy trapping of received passes. I find that interrupts the flow a lot at times. Maybe the turf has something to do with it.

posted by sbacharach at 01:00 PM on July 01, 2015

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