USWNT 1:1 Germany
By Kara McDermott
The candy-cane squad welcomed Germany for the first of a two-game series as part of the USWNT’s victory tour at Chicago Fire’s stadium, playing to a 1-1 tie in front of an enthusiastic crowd. The two top-ranked teams in the world have existed as ships passing in the night, having not collided with each other in competition since 2010 – a game that saw two goals from scoring juggernaut Abby Wambach.
To continue that tradition, Wambach opened scoring in just the second minute of play. Tobin Heath started the attack by running down a giveaway ball deep on the left side. Defender Bianca Schmidt got to the ball first and had her head up to clear the ball forward, but Heath ran around her and stripped the ball from her feet, immediately passing to Lauren Cheney in the center. She in turn one-timed it forward to Alex Morgan who took a few touches and sent a pass across the box from the top of the left side for Wambach to finish point-blank at the far post.
The German side continued to struggle for the first 15 minutes of the game, with disorganized defense and disconnected offense. But once the squad shook off the warm-up, they came back strong against the US.
In the 14th minute, Simone Laudehr deflecting a high ball up the fieled. Anja Mittag ran on to the ball and carried it to the goal. Defenders Heather Mitts and Christie Rampone attempted to run down the speedy forward, but were only able to herd her to the left without blocking her attack. Mittag took advantage of keeper Hope Solo’s advanced position to pop a shot up and over to even the scoreline.
From then on, Germany was a huge presence on the field. This is a team that can match and give back the US’ physicality and on defense they stayed in front of the ball, a deceptively difficult task against the craft of Wambach and speed of Morgan.
Offensively, the Germans acted as a twelfth defender for the US. In the 24th minute, Laudehr was gift-wrapped a ball dead center of the goal from a cut back ball on the line with no defender to pressure her shot. That shot skimmed the safe side of the left post.
Germany created several very dangerous situations for the US, but could not finish to draw their squad ahead of the well-supported home team.
The jail stripers were not so innocent in this regard either. The fresh legs of Heather O’Reilly and Carli Lloyd at half sparked a resurgence in the offense, but they too were denied by low crossbars and narrow posts. Between O’Reilly’s floater in the 65th minute that landed on top of the net and the narrowly wide diving header of Germany’s Alexandra Popp in the 86th minute, there was plenty of frustration to go around.
The game more closely resembled a tennis match than anything else, with marches back and forth down the field from both teams. In the end the even game ended even, though the shoulders and faces of the US players seemed to indicate a different result.
The second game of the series will be played on Tuesday at 4:30 PST. Germany represents the toughest competition the US has faced since Japan in the finals of the Olympics, a tournament the Germans were left out of after Sweden and France advanced further in the 2011 World Cup.
After Germany, the US will continue their homecoming tour with two games against the Republic of Ireland, the first on November 28 in Portland and the second in Arizona on December 1.
USWNT: Hope Solo, Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone, Kelleyd O’Hara, Shannon Box, Lauren Cheney, Ale Morgan, Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, Rachel Buehler, Tobin Heath
GERMANY: Nadine Angerer, Bianca Schmidt, Saskia Bartusiak, Babett Peter, Annike Krahn, Simone Laudehr, Melanie Behringer, Anja Mittag, Viola Odebrecht,