Patriotic defense: U.S. Women to World Cup Final Sunday

U.S. Womens Soccer Team )photo Facebook/US Soccer Team)

U.S. Womens Soccer Team
)photo Facebook/US Soccer Team)

The only nation to appear in at least the Semifinals of all seven FIFA Women’s World Cups is now the only nation to appear in four World Cup Finals—and looking to become the only nation to win three championships.

Above the U.S. crest on their jerseys sit a pair of stars, one each for their 1991 and 1999 World Cup championships, the battle cry has been the quest for that third star. Riding a 513-minute scoreless streak against, the United States Women’s National Team is on the verge of that third star. But they were also just four years ago losing a heartbreaker in penalties to Japan. Sunday could see a rematch of that epic 2011 Final, Sunday night in Vancouver. The match can be seen on FOX, with pregame at 5 pm and kickoff at 6P pm. Japan was to play surprising England in the second semifinal on Wednesday night.

When Jill Ellis took over as coach from Pia Sundhage, who returned to her native Sweden to coach their national team, it was seen as a bit of a controversial hire. Quickly, Ellis changed the system from the free flowing attack we had become used to where goals were almost always plentiful to a more rigidly structured style more focused on defense. It was a change difficult to adjust to for players, fans, and commentators alike and results were slow in coming.

However in the World Cup opener against Australia, the U.S. came out quickly scoring in the 12th minute on a goal from Megan Rapinoe. Lisa De Vanna tied it for the Aussies in the 27th, which was the last goal allowed by this team. Hope Solo has recorded five consecutive shutouts, tying her with Brianna Scurry with 10 in her World Cup career, and Ellis’ defensive structure has held tightly. The U.S. went on to defeat Australia 3-1. Three has been the highest output so far.

They followed that with the highly anticipated match against Sweden, with Sundhage making several provocative comments about her former team in the days leading up to the match. This one was painful to watch, a 0-0 draw, with more questions. The final group stage match did little to alleviate concern, a 1-0 win over Nigeria but still, Group D champions with seven of the possible nine points.

The Knockout Stage began with a 2-0 win over Colombia on goals from Alex Morgan and Captain Carli Lloyd. The Quarterfinal against China saw the issue with finishing continue for Team USA, a Lloyd goal in the 51st minute giving the Americans another 1-0 victory.

The USA entered this World Cup ranked #2 in the world. Germany was #1 and the opponent in the Semifinal in Montreal. Each side’s goalkeeper made big saves in a scoreless first half. The Americans benefitted from two bad calls in the second half. In the 59th minute, defender Julie Johnston pulled down Germany’s Alexandra Popp for a penalty. Johnston received a yellow card instead of the red that would have taken her out of the rest of the tournament.

Solo stalled leading to nearly two minutes before the kick, and Celia Sasic missed wide left. Six minutes later, Morgan went down and another penalty was called; however, replay clearly showed the foul occurred outside the penalty area. Lloyd stepped to the spot and defiantly scored to put the U.S. up 1-0 in the 69th minute. Kelley O’Hara added her first-ever WNT goal in the 84th as the USA beat Germany 2-0, sending them to the Final.