June 30, 2015
By Michael Lewis
Carli Lloyd continues her virtuoso knockout-round performances by knocking out Germany
MONTREAL -- Few players in the 24-year history of the Women's World Cup has accomplished what Carli Lloyd has in the past nine days.
|Carli Lloyd continued her incredible knockout round play against Germany, scoring one goal and setting up another.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Three games, three vital goals and three player of the match honors.
The third time certainly still was the charm for the Delran, N.J. native Tuesday night, scoring the first goal and creating the second in a dominating 2-0 performance by the United States over top-ranked Germany in the semifinals at Olympic Stadium.
Lloyd converted a penalty kick and set up Kelley O'Hara's insurance tally in the 85th minute to send the Americans to their fourth final. They are seeking their third title and first in 16 years or since the USA last took the victory lap in 1999.
“I feel we have really, really good momentum,” she said. “We’ve got each other's backs. It’s a good feeling. I have a really confident feeling going into it [the final].”
The final is set for B.C. Place in Vancouver Sunday. The USA will play the winner of Wednesday night's semifinal between favored Japan and England.
USA head Jill Ellis doesn't care who the Americans will play as long as they line up for the championship game.
“Obviously we are delighted to be moving on," she said. "Just really, really pleased and proud of the players. I thought they stepped up.”
Indeed they did.
The Americans had many heroes. The backline, led by center backs Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn -- deflected just about every German attack in front of goalkeeper Hope Solo, who really didn't have to work so hard to register her fifth consecutive clean sheet in six matches, stopping a team that boasted a tournament high 20 goals. The USA hasn't allowed a goal in 513 minutes or since the 3-1 group-opening win over Australia.
And then there was the 32-year-old Lloyd, who has a history and then some of rising to the occasion.
Her resume includes scoring the winning goal in successive Olympic gold-medal matches and 65 international goals in 201 games.
A center midfielder by trade, Lloyd lined up as withdrawn center forward behind Alex Morgan Tuesday night. Needless to say, she relished the role, forcing the issue on the left side.
"It was great," she said. "I'm going to work my tail off. I came here to win this thing, not to be a participant in a World Cup."
The game turned during a nine-minute span in the second half when referee Teodora Albom of Romania ruled that Johnston had taken down striker Alexandra Popp in the box in the 59th minute.
Celia Sasic took the ensuing penalty and drilled her attempt just wide left while goalkeeper Hope Solo dived the other way as the USA dodged a bullet. Sasic held her hands in astonishment that she would miss such a shot.
The miss gave the Americans a second wind and they went on attack. Striker Alex Morgan came close in the 66th minute and was running toward the net when she was taken down inside the area by Annike Krahn a minute later. Krahn received a yellow card, the USA a penalty kick.
Lloyd had too much time to think as the referee dealt with an encroaching German player.
“It felt like it was a good five minutes while waiting,” she said. “I didn't know what the goalkeeper was doing or saying. All I knew that I had to sink the PK.”
Which she did, converting penalty past Nadine Angerer into the right corner as the goalkeeper dove in the other direction as the crowd erupted to celebrate a 1-0 lead in the 69th minute.
Only 10 minutes after replacing Tobin Heath in the 75th minute, O’Hara was rewarded for her hard work. Over two matches. This time Lloyd played goal creator, finding space on the left of the box and crossing the ball to O’Hara, who volleyed the ball home for a 2-0 advantage.
Several minutes later, Lloyd and friends were celebrating a 2-0 victory and a spot in the final.
Right now, Lloyd is living a dream.
As a 16-year-old player in 1999, she went to Giants Stadium to watch her heroes, the U.S. women's national team, play in the Women's World Cup. She was not disappointed as the Americans and Mia Hamm recorded a 3-1 win over Denmark. The USA went on to win the competition.
"I was a young girl at the time watching, thinking to myself it would be a dream come true to be a part of this," she said. "It's truly an honor. Winning a World Cup would absolutely be a dream come
Carli Lloyd is only 90 minutes away from turning that dream into reality.