U.S. Women End World Cup Run For 'Imprecise' Germans

MONTREAL, Quebec -- The last time Germany lost a Women's World Cup game by two goals, a 3.8 magnitude earthquake was recorded in northern New England.

It was June 18, 1995. When the earth trembled briefly two decades ago, it caused no real damage. On Tuesday in Montreal, on the other hand, a consequential shockwave was sent through Germany's 2015 Women's World Cup. The U.S. women's 2-0 victory eliminated Germany one step short of the final.

"It was our dream to play in [the final in] Vancouver and we did everything to get there, but that dream was shattered tonight," said midfielder Lena Goessling, downbeat like all of her teammates to be heading to Edmonton for a third-place playoff on Saturday.

The tremors Germany's players were feeling were the emotional convulsions brought on by a crushing defeat that few had predicted.

They had a swagger in their stride in Canada; nothing looked like it was going to stop them. Not even France's valiant yet ill-fated attempt to cut Germany down to size had the world's No. 1-ranked team wobbling.

The Germans came out against the United States on Tuesday with enough intent in their game, but something was lacking. This side had scored 20 goals on its way to the semifinals. It boasted the tournament's two top scorers -- Celia Sasic with six, Anja Mittag with five. They were ominously absent Tuesday.

Sasic might still have to find room in her suitcase for that Golden Boot Award, but it will be scant consolation. On Tuesday, her penalty miss -- Germany's first at a Women's World Cup after 12 perfect previous attempts -- in the 60th minute proved to be a pivotal moment. It was Germany's best chance of the game to score, yet it was wasted.

"Certainly when you miss a penalty and then you concede one and fall 1-0 behind, then you do have to fight your way back, but I still felt my team were confident enough to give it a go," German coach Silvia Neid summarized. "We just didn't take our chances and we weren't dangerous -- and we've been much better at that.

"Our play going forward was good, but we were not great around the area. Our biggest problem today was that we were too imprecise and we weren't dangerous."

Looking at the statistics, Neid was right with her assessment. Germany had 150 touches in the final third, compared to the United States' 115, and 287 in the middle third, as opposed to 242. Yet only 14 times were the Germans able to penetrate into the U.S. penalty area. Jill Ellis' side did that 27 times.

"We didn't create any clear-cut chances tonight," Goessling admitted. "We had too few shots, and I think that's all we were lacking."

That and perhaps a bit of luck on a controversial call that allowed the United States to take the lead. Many questioned whether Annike Krahn's foul on Alex Morgan was inside the penalty box.

"It was quite evidently outside the penalty area and the TV images show it quite clearly," Neid said. "Of course I'm very, very sad about it -- that this penalty decided the game -- but what can I do now? The referee made her decision and we've got to live with it."

Pinning Germany's elimination on one refereeing call would be reductive anyway. Just ask the person directly involved in that incident.

"They had the better chances and deserved to win," Krahn conceded with a trembling voice. "Of course it's frustrating to fall behind due to a mistake, but it wasn't the referee's fault that we've gone out."

So it was purely the offensive inadequacies that were behind Germany's failure to win a record third World Cup, but it must not be all doom and gloom for a side that has wowed the fans in Canada.

Neid said Germany must move on "quickly," look to finish third and "go home with our heads held high."

"We've shot many teams out of this tournament," Neid said. "It didn't work for us tonight, but we're in the top four in the world and I'm pleased and proud of my team. They gave everything, but unfortunately it wasn't enough.

"You can't go through life winning every game, so it's always good to have to recover from a defeat. You can learn from that also, and I'm certain my players will do that. Compliments and congratulations to the USA team."