Action from the FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinal between the USA (white jersey) and China on June 26, 2015, in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
MONTREAL -- Defeating an improved China is one thing. Taking on the top-ranked side in the world is another matter altogether.
United States striker Abby Wambach knows that her teammates must step it up, when they take on Germany in the semifinals of the FIFA Women's World Cup (FWWC) here on Tuesday night.
"We play against a real good German team," said Wambach after the Americans eliminated China with a 1-0 quarterfinal win on Friday in Ottawa. "We're going to go back to the drawing board because now every stage of this tournament that goes on, it's a new tournament.
“In order to get to the final, we're going to have to play almost impeccable soccer. We've got to finish some chances. We've got to create some chances."
Offense production continues to be an issue with the Americans. Star forwards Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach, the 2013 and 2014 CONCACAF Players of Year, respectively, have scored only one goal each in 10 combined 2015 FWWC appearances.
The defense, though, has taken center stage in the USA’s march to the semifinals. It has allowed only one goal -- in the group opener, a 3-1 win over Australia. Since then the back four of Megan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn and Ali Krieger and goalkeeper Hope Solo has been flawless.
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis has juggled her starting lineups and substitutions due to injuries and suspensions. Dealing with that adversity should help the CONCACAF champion in its next two games – the semifinal and either the final or match for third place -- as just about every field player has seen action. Outside of the two reserve goalkeepers and veteran defender Whitney Engen, every other player on the roster has received FWWC playing time.
"I think you will see a positive effect through the next couple of games,” pointed out Wambach. “We definitely have two more games and if you have two more games, you might as well play in the final."
First, though, the USA must find a way against two-time world champion Germany, which advanced by besting France in penalty kicks on Friday.