Americans down Germany 2-0 in blockbuster semifinal
By Gunnar Berndt
Photo credit: ISI Photos
Semifinal: USA vs. Germany 2-0
Red Stars: Julie Johnston (DEF), Lori Chalupny (MID-DEF), Shannon Boxx (MID), Christen Press (FWD) – all USA
Red Stars center back Julie Johnston went the distance yet again in the U.S. Women’s massive 2-0 win over giants Germany that sent Head Coach Jill Ellis’ squad through to the final of the most prestigious of tournaments. The 23-year-old Johnston contributed to her side’s fifth straight shutout with a strong overall performance but needed a bit of luck as well, as she brought down Alexandra Popp in the second half and saw the resulting penalty kick pushed wide by Celia Sasic.
The Americans, whose gameday roster also featured Chicago’s Christen Press, Lori Chalupny and Shannon Boxx, had the better of the opening half hour, creating several quality chances to take the lead. Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Nadine Angerer had to come up with consecutive world-class kick saves, the first denying Johnston’s near-post header on a Megan Rapinoe corner kick from the left and the second stifling Alex Morgan one-on-one following an exquisite through ball by Tobin Heath.
Germany had the first close look of the second period, Anja Mittag’s header whistling just wide of the frame. That set the stage for a dramatic final 30 minutes that began with Johnston struggling to deal with a bouncing ball in the box and pulling down Popp from behind, narrowly escaping a straight red card from referee Teodora Albon, who opted for yellow instead. Goal-scoring ace Sasic stepped up to take the ensuing penalty kick, but only to uncharacteristically send her attempt wide of the left upright.
The Stars and Stripes punished their title favorites for the missed opportunity in the 69th minute, Carli Lloyd providing a clinic in finishing from the spot after an Annike Krahn foul inside the area abruptly ended Morgan’s outstanding solo run. Lloyd confidently buried her effort inside the right post, sending Angerer the wrong way in the process.
The U.S. captain helped put the game out of reach by adding an assist to her goal six minutes from full time, as she dribbled through to the byline on the left and produced a perfect centering ball that was slammed home at the doorstep by substitute Kelley O’Hara. It would be the final noteworthy action of the match, as the Red, White and Blue held on for a victory against the world number one that sees them advance to Sunday’s final, where they will face either England or defending champion Japan.