US-Germany semifinal features world’s top goalkeepers

U.S. keeper Hope Solo covers the ball after making a save against China during the second half of a quarterfinal match in the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Friday, June 26, 2015, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

MONTREAL (AP) — The Women’s World Cup semifinal clash between top-ranked Germany and the second-ranked United States will feature two of the best goalkeepers in the game: Nadine Angerer and Hope Solo.

The two women will be the last line of defense Tuesday night for their teams, with is each seeking a spot in the final match. Historically, when the Germans have met the Americans in the World Cup, the winner has gone on to win the title.

Both teams have won it all twice: The United States in 1991 and ’99, and the Germans in 2003 and ’07.

Solo, despite being inundated at the start of the tournament with new revelations about her domestic violence arrest last June, has been nearly perfect. She has only allowed one goal — in the first half of the group-stage opener against Australia.

Since then she’s posted four straight shutouts. The stout U.S. defense hasn’t conceded a goal in 423 minutes. Solo leads all goalkeepers at the World Cup with 11 saves.

In the 1-0 quarterfinal victory over China, Solo surpassed Briana Scurry for most wins by a U.S. goalkeeper with 134.

“Hope’s absolutely world class,” midfielder Heather O’Reilly said. “We’re proud of her for that accomplishment. I know she has a big one in mind, and that’s to win the World Cup.”

Angerer, the former FIFA Player of the Year who was the first goalkeeper to win the award, started for Germany in the 2007 World Cup and did not allow a goal on the way to the title, setting a World Cup record for most minutes played (540) without a goal.

Angerer has nine saves in Canada. Germany has conceded three goals.

“I think a lot of people have respect for her,” U.S. defender Ali Krieger said. “She’s consistent, she’s confident, she does her job really well and she’s the leader of that team. They really look to her for making those MVP plays, and consistently does that at the right times.”

Angerer, 36, has said she plans to retire following the World Cup.

MAKING A STATEMENT ON FIELD: Hope Solo hasn’t spoken to reporters at the World Cup since brief comments after the opener against Australia. Just before the match, ESPN reported new details about the assault case she faced, stemming from an altercation with her half-sister and her nephew in Washington state last June. A judge dismissed the case earlier this year.

Solo has occasionally posted to Twitter and Instagram, including a photo of her and defender Lori Chalupny wearing “Beast Mode” T-shirts sent by Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.

U.S. Soccer released a video featuring Solo’s comments about Germany and the upcoming match.

“I could talk all day about the strengths they bring, but ultimately it’s about how we play. And I think we learned that in our last match against China: If we play our game, it doesn’t matter who we play, in the end we will come out on top,” she said in the video. “Right now our team is just in a great place in terms of believing in themselves and we know it’s about us and not any other opponent.”

HISTORY: This is the fourth meeting between the two teams at the World Cup. In each instance the winner has gone on to claim the title.

The United States defeated Germany 5-1 in the semifinals of the first women’s tournament in 1991 then went on to beat Norway in the final.

The Americans beat Germany 3-2 in the 1999 quarterfinals, going on to beat Japan on penalty kicks in the final on home soil at the Rose Bowl.

The Germans beat the United States 3-0 in Portland, Oregon, in the semifinals then beat Sweden 2-1 in Carson, California, for the team’s first title in 2003.

Overall, the United States is 18-4-7 against the Germans.

HOW THE U.S. GOT HERE: The United States finished atop Group D, the so-called Group of Death, with a 3-1 victory over No. 10 Australia, a scoreless draw with No. 5 Sweden and a 1-0 victory over Nigeria.

The Americans defeated Colombia 2-0 to open the knockout round, and then defeated China 1-0 on a second-half goal from Carli Lloyd in the quarterfinals.

HOW GERMANY GOT HERE: Germany finished atop Group B, with a 10-0 victory over Ivory Coast, a 1-1 draw with Norway and a 4-0 victory over Thailand.

The Germans defeated Sweden 4-1 to open the knockout round, before downing France on penalty kicks.

AFTER TUESDAY NIGHT: The victor will face the winner of the other semifinal between defending champion Japan, ranked No. 5 in the world, and sixth-ranked England at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Wednesday night. The final is set for next Sunday at BC Place in Vancouver.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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