Benson's Breakdown: U.S. vs. Germany
Where do you begin when analyzing what could be one of the best matches ever played in women's soccer?
The 3-0 score does not describe what an unbelievable match these two teams played on Sunday. I thought the U.S. played a very solid game both defensively and offensively. The heart, work ethic and character the U.S. demonstrated makes me proud to say that I am a part of U.S. soccer and proud to be colleague of these women.
The team did everything right except put the ball in the back of the net. The back line held solid against an amazing twosome of Maren Meinert and Birgit Prinz. They held their scoring chances down and did just a great job against them. The midfield fought hard and was all over the place, creating offense and fighting hard defensively. The attacking players were everywhere working as hard as they could for 90 minutes creating havoc for Germany's backs defensively and moving off the ball offensively to open up chances for each other. Although you don't want to take anything away from the German side that played a great game I thought the U.S. created more opportunities and it was a shame it ended the way it did.
Defense: I don't think I could compliment this back line enough for the tournament they had. Joy Fawcett once again along with Briana Scurry commanded things and kept everything very tight. I love watching Fawcett play because her positioning is always perfect. She always seems to be able to step in front of the attacker and win the ball clearly because her starting position is so good. I would have liked to see the outside backs get into the attack a little bit more especially in the second half, but yet I don't want to take anything away from them, I thought they played great. And other than the goal they were able to control the aerial game in their box. I think this was a great U.S. defense and they played very composed tonight and the entire World Cup.
Midfield: The midfield had a great game tonight. I think after the first ten minutes they settled down and tried to control the tempo of the game. In the first half, I thought if they could only possess the ball a little bit more in front of the back line that would have helped open things up. I thought both the midfield and the forwards did a great job of this in the second half which is why they created so many chances. And they were all over the field. I remember seeing Julie Foudy in her own box defending and then looking up to see her penetrating the flank in the Germans' defensive third. That commitment is what all the midfielders displayed tonight which gave them an opportunity to win.
Forwards: The starting three forwards did a tremendous job tonight. Cindy Parlow was down the right flank crossing the ball more than I think she ever has. Mia Hamm buzzing around working only like Mia can work and Abby Wambach was solid too. These three created a lot of chances for themselves and each other. If you get a lucky bounce here or there, who knows, the game could have been much different. But, I don't think it was lack of creativity by the three front-runners and even Tiffeny Milbrett when she came in. It came down to just finishing that one chance. The attackers got in behind, held the ball in front of Germany's back line and did a lot right except put a goal in.
When I look at this game and these girls my heart is broken for them. I know how hard they work everyday and how much they sacrifice everyday of their lives. Although I thought they were the better team and they created the most chances things didn't bounce the right way. But I know what great players and people these women are and I expect them to come out and leave it all on the field Saturday and for decades to come.
Jenny Benson, U.S. Women's National Team pool player and former Philadelphia Charge defender, is covering the Women's World Cup for ESPN Soccernet.com.