The United States and Germany, No. 1 and No. 2 in the world respectively, meet at 6:30 p.m. CT Wednesday (March 9) in the title game of the first SheBelieves Cup. The match, in Boca Raton, Fla., will be streamed on ESPN3.
Germany claims the tournament title with a draw or a win; the Americans need a win. The two teams are tied atop the standings with six points (both beat France and England), and they’re even on the first tie-breaker, goal differential (both are +2). Germany leads on the second tie-breaker, total goals, having scored one more than Team USA.
Here are five more oddities, curiosities, or (possibly) interesting facts about the game and its participants.
The last game between these teams — in the semifinals of last summer’s World Cup — was the fourth most widely watched Women’s World Cup match ever, with an estimated Fox TV audience of 8.4 million viewers. (Team USA won 2-0.)
According to Sports Media Watch, that audience was exceeded only by those for three World Cup title games: the 2015 final against Japan (25.4 million viewers), the 1999 final against China (18 million) and the 2011 final against Japan (13.5 million).
In “Winning It All,” an insightful World Cup journal on her website, Hope Solo had nothing but the highest praise for the German team.
The journal, written last August, retraced Team USA’s journey through the world tournament, game by game.
“I wish every game could be like our semifinal against Germany,” the American keeper wrote.
Those are the games I love to play in. I live for them. You see the best of the best athletes. You see special plays and heartbreak. It’s everything any fan could want, and any player could want, too.
It was an amazing matchup. … The German team is a truly professional team with great, special players. We have respect not only for their skills, but for their organization and tactics as well. It wouldn’t have felt the same winning the World Cup if we never got to play Germany.
Solo suggested that beating Germany to move on to the final was a bigger test than the final itself.
Going into the final — and I mean no disrespect to Japan when I say this — I absolutely knew we were going to win. … From the opening whistle, you could feel how loose we were. We were opening up our play. You could feel the confidence and excitement of our players, more so than in the Germany game. Germany was intense. This was more fun.
Kelley O’Hara and Mallory Pugh have each started in the last five games.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis has said that versatility is a quality she highly prizes in players, because of the comparatively small roster for the 2016 Summer Olympics — 18 players, compared with 23 for the World Cup. And O’Hara, a striker who converted to the backline, is one of the most versatile.
Pugh’s speed, her skill on the ball, her solid decision-making and her poise — truly remarkable for a 17-year-old — make her particularly valuable when opposing teams bunker down against Team USA, focusing their energies on keeping defenders behind the ball. Pugh, along with fellow new kid Crystal Dunn, has shown an ability to penetrate the bunkers.
Morgan Brian earned her 50th cap against France on Sunday (March 6), becoming the 52nd U.S. woman to reach that milestone — and she’s only 23.
Kelley O’Hara picked up her 75th cap, tying Sydney Leroux for 39th on the all-time U.S. list.