June 30, 2015
By Michael Lewis
WHICH ONE WILL BE A KEEPER?
Women's World Cup semifinal pits the 2 best GKs in the Hope Solo (USA) vs. Nadine Angerer (Germany)
MONTREAL -- Tuesday's Women's World Cup semifinals not only pits the two best teams in the world, it also will be a rare confrontation between the two finest goalkeepers on the planet.
|Hope Solo will pit her skills against Nadine Angerer in the Women's World Cup semifinal Tuesday night.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
For only the sixth time, the USA's Hope Solo and Germany's Nadine Angerer will meet in a game.
Exactly who is No. 1 is up for argument.
"Both of them, if you asked them, they would feel they are the best goalkeeper in the world," said former U.S. coach Tony DiCicco, a long-time goalkeeping coach who coached the USA to the 1999 Women's World Cup title, the last time the Americans tasted ultimate victory in the tournament.
"If I had to pick one of those two I would be very happy," Portland Thorns coach Paul Riley said.
Regardless, both keepers are good, damn good when it comes to playing under pressure and stopping shots.
"Both come up with big saves," DiCicco said. "Hope is just so athletic, so confident. She has an unbelievable presence. Nadine is such a leader on her team, a role model. ... Neither of them have any glaring weaknesses."
Riley, a Long Island resident who is Angerer's coach on the Portland Thorns, is quite familiar with both keepers.
"She's in great form. She's experienced," he said about Angerer. "We know Nadine is good on crosses. She has good reach. Very different techniques. Nadine makes herself very big. It all comes from her side. She stays big like that whereas Hope uses her feet to get into position."
Don't be surprised if the game is decided by penalties.
"It could come down to the two goalkeepers tomorrow," DiCicco said. "Certainly if it comes down to penalties, it could come to the two goalkeepers."
It certainly came down to Angerer when the quarterfinal was on the line against France Friday. The 36-year-old Angerer made save superb saves to keep the Germans in the match and made a spectacular stop on the final penalty kick to give Germany a shootout win over its European rivals after playing to a 1-1 draw in regulation and extratime.
Angerer, 36, who said that she will retire after the National Women's Soccer League season, backstopped the Germans to the 2007 Women's World Cup title.
Ironically, it was during that 2007 tournament that Solo, who turns 34 next month, had her famous meltdown after she was benched for the USA's historic 4-0 semifinal defeat to Brazil. More recently, Solo has made headlines, not for sporting reasons, in a domestic violence case.
"They are two different goalkeepers," said USA striker Alex Morgan, Angerer's teammate on the Thorns. "For Nadine, she's a gamer. With Portland you saw in training she always wants to show her best. We have competitions all the time. I think that helps her to prepare for each game. It will be interesting know her weaknesses and knowing mine as well.
"I've played with Hope for a very long time. She is one of the best goalkeepers in the world if not the best goalkeeper in the world. She's proved her in the last tournament and this tournament. I think the next game is probably going to be the biggest challenge for both keepers."
For what it's worth, Solo and the USA have the upper hand on Angerer, with a 3-0-2 record. Neither player was made available to the media Monday.
"You solve her by creating as many opportunities as you can," said Portland teammate and USA midfielder Tobin Heath, who scored against Angerer in a 2-2 draw in 2012. "She's difficult to score on and she's proven it this tournament but I know we have the fire to do it."
Only one keeper and team will emerge a winner at Olympic Stadium with a ticket heading to the final in B.C. Place in Vancouver Sunday, the other taking an unwanted flight to Edmonton for the third-place match Saturday.