USA vs. Germany: Here We Go Again
One of the world’s greatest women’s soccer rivalries resumes on Thursday, Oct. 29, as the U.S. meets Germany at the new Implus Arena in Augsburg, Germany.
The match is already sold-out as more than 29,000 fans will pack the stadium in the first international match played at the venue. It will also be the biggest crowd ever at Impuls, as the German Second Division team that plays there, FC Augsburg, has yet to fill it up during its inaugural season in its new home.
It will be an environment worthy of the two titanic adversaries, who are certainly the two most successful nations in the relatively short history of women’s international soccer. The USA has won two Women’s World Cup titles and three Olympic gold medals, plus two youth Women’s World Cup titles. Germany has won two Women’s World Cup titles, five straight European championships and one youth Women’s World Cup.
The Germans will try to make it three World Cup titles in a row come 2011 on their home soil during a tournament in which they will be heavily favored. For now, the two teams will write a new chapter in their historic rivalry in what is surely the biggest women’s international friendly of the year.
While the USA holds a 16-4-4 all-time record against the Germans, which includes two wins over the former West Germany, there have been several epic encounters in the history between the teams. ussoccer.com takes a look back at our top-five USA-Germany games in history, in chronological order:
Nov. 27, 1991 – Guangzhou, China (5-2 Win)
The first big match the teams played came in the semifinal of the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Germany came in as the favorite but was stunned, 5-2, by the upstart Americans as Carin Gabarra scored a hat trick and April Heinrichs added two goals. The USA would use that momentum to win the first-ever World Cup, 2-1, against Norway in the championship game.
It would be eight more years until the teams would meet again in World Cup action, but when they did, it was one of the most dramatic games in U.S. history.
July 1, 1999 – Landover, Md. (3-2 Win)
The USA was riding a wave of patriotic pride in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup when they entered the quarterfinal match at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Maryland. With President Clinton in the stands and a crowd of more than 54,000 whipped into a frenzy, disaster struck just five minutes into the match when a miscommunication between goalkeeper Briana Scurry and defender Brandi Chastain led to Chastain passing the ball into her own net.
The USA would battle back and just 11 minutes later, Tiffeny Milbrett pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area and drove it home to tie the game. It looked as if the game would go to halftime tied at 1-1 when legendary German midfielder Bettina Wiegmann hit a blistering drive one minute into stoppage time. The Germans jogged to the locker room with the lead and perhaps a tremendous psychological advantage.
But this was a U.S. team, as history would eventually make clear, that was mentally tough to the highest degree. Just four minutes into the second half, Chastain atoned for her miscue, slapping her curling shot off the left post and in after a goal box scramble. The match was tied at 2-2.
The winning goal, one of the most historic for the U.S. women, came in the 66th minute on the first touch of the match from Shannon MacMillan. Subbed in for Julie Foudy before a corner kick, she raced over to serve the ball and drilled a cross straight to the near post where defender Joy Fawcett powerfully re-directed the ball into the net past the leaping German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg. A locker room visit from the President, First Lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea was a just reward for such a scintillating match.
Oct. 5, 2003 – Portland, Ore. (0-3 Loss)
With the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup organized in the United States after being moved from China due to the SARS scare, the Americans had the chance to recapture just a small part of the magic they had created four years earlier, but that all came crashing down on a chilly night at PGE Park in Portland.
In the semifinal, the Germans took a 1-0 lead after a corner kick led to a header from towering midfielder Kerstin Garefrekes in the 15th minute and now it was up to the Americans to chase the game. And chase they did. Tiffeny Milbrett came on in the 70th minute and was later denied what looked to be a clear penalty when she was taken down at the top of the penalty box by Rottenberg, but there was no call from referee Sonia Denoncourt.
The Germans held down the fort with tremendous organization and at the end of the game, the Americans went to three backs, throwing everything forward. In clinical fashion, the German counter-attack produced two goals in second half stoppage time to put the match away and the USA was relegated to the third-place game where they would later defeat Canada by a 3-1 score. The win for Germany would launch them to the first of two straight Women’s World Cup titles.
Aug. 23, 2004 – Heraklio, Greece (2-1 Win in OT)
A semifinal of a major tournament was once again the stage for a USA-Germany clash. The U.S., playing some excellent soccer, was in control for the entire match, but Kristine Lilly’s smartly struck shot in the 33rd minute was the only goal the USA could manage. Still, as the match headed into stoppage time in the second half, it seemed the U.S. would gut out the win. Germany had other ideas. Isabell Bachor dramatically tied the game in the 92nd minute on a fluky goal that deflected off the hip of Joy Fawcett and the match was headed to overtime.
Heather O’Reilly, then just 19 years old, had entered in the 75th minute. She would be the main protagonist in overtime. Just minutes into the first extra time period, she used her speed to beat the German goalkeeper to a ball, rounded her and had an open net to shoot at, albeit from a sharp angle. The ball hit the post and bounced away.
In one of the most impressive feats of putting the past behind you, just minutes later O’Reilly made a darting run to the six yard box as Mia Hamm turned the right corner past a defender and slotted a ball back into the seam. O’Reilly ran through the ball and sliced her shot into the lower left corner for what would be the winning goal.
The Americans held on for the last 21 minutes to earn a berth in the Olympic Final, where they would stun Brazil 2-1 on yet another overtime goal, this one from Abby Wambach.
March 15, 2006 – Faro, Portugal (0-0 T, 3-4 in Penalty Kicks)
The USA had defeated Germany the year before in the Algarve Cup Final by a 1-0 score, but only because of a counter attack goal and some brilliant play from Hope Solo, who was just coming into her own. The goal came off a brilliant pass from Aly Wagner that was finished on a second chance from Christie Welsh after her first shot had rebounded off the goalkeeper, but it was the Germans who forced their will on the Americans that night.
Not so one year later, as the USA dominated the Germans in the 2006 Algarve Cup Final, out-shooting them 16-9 and earning 13 corner kicks to Germany’s three with some wonderful attacking play over 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime.
Unfortunately for the U.S., German goalkeeper Rottenberg (a frequent antagonist in this matchup) was in world class form, pulling off a handful of spectacular saves to get her team to penalty kicks.
In the first half Wagner spun a shot just wide left from 14 yards out in the 15th minute while Rottenberg swept a ball off the charging Wambach’s feet in the 22nd minute. The USA then hammered two shots off the crossbar in a span of five minutes. Wagner drilled a shot off the bar at the upper left corner and four minutes later Carli Lloyd cranked a 30-yarder with her left foot off the crossbar at almost the same spot that Wagner tattooed.
Right at the end of the half, the USA caught Germany by surprise on a quickly taken free kick that saw Wagner play Lilly into the right side of the penalty area. The U.S. captain cut towards the near post and found Lloyd perfectly in the slot, but her shot was blocked by a defender and bounced out for a corner kick.
That’s pretty much how the game went for the USA, with the Americans just barely misfiring or Rottenberg acrobatically tipping away shots. The match was physical, but not dirty, with 31 total fouls being called as each team went at the other hard. The Germans, who were fortunate to get to penalties, did take care of business in the shootout.
Wagner, Whitehill and Lilly converted for the USA, but Shannon Boxx and Wambach missed the second and fourth penalty kick attempts while the Germans took four excellent spot kicks with the final kick from Petra Wimbersky ending the match.
What will transpire on the field in Augsburg on Oct. 29 no one knows. But if history is any indication, the fans at Impuls Arena should be ready for a wild and entertaining 90 minutes.