Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV
NV89 Discover Music
'Jazz'

an member station

NPR
The Two-Way

U.S.-Germany Soccer Match Is Showdown Between World's Top 2 Teams

418834822_1371188984.jpg

U.S. goalie Hope Solo stops a shot during training Tuesday at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
Elsa, Getty Images
U.S. goalie Hope Solo stops a shot during training Tuesday at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

The final of the Women's World Cup isn't until Sunday. But it might as well be tonight, as world No. 1 Germany takes on the second-ranked United States in the soccer semifinals. The U.S. and Germany have played four previous times in the World Cup, including a semifinal in 2003 (won by Germany).

The game should be a great one. Consider that Germany has scored the most goals this tournament (20), and the U.S. has allowed just a single goal. The U.S. and Germany have each won the World Cup twice.

The United States reached the semifinals primarily on the strength of its defense: The team hasn't given up a goal since the tournament opener five games ago against Australia. The U.S., led by goalkeeper Hope Solo, have held opponents scoreless for 423 consecutive minutes (the longest stretch for the U.S. in World Cup history). The U.S. also is the only country to reach the semifinals in all seven World Cup tournaments.

While the defense has been steady, the offense has languished this tournament. Head coach Jill Ellis has tinkered with the starting lineup in every game. During the last game, against China, the Americans played some of their best soccer of the World Cup. The team was quicker and created more exciting scoring opportunities. The passes were crisper, and the players seemed more relaxed.

Support comes from

Despite the criticism of conservative and shaky play, the U.S. is one of four teams still alive in the tournament. The winner heads to the finals on Sunday against either defending champion Japan or England. If the U.S. loses, it will play in the third-place game on Saturday against the loser of the other semifinal match.

Kickoff for the U.S.-Germany game is at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday in Montreal, and will be broadcast by Fox and NBC Universo.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.