An in­side scoop on Ger­many?

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Kevin Bax­ter kevin. bax­ter@ latimes. com

MON­TREAL — U. S. de­fender Ali Krieger is f lu­ent in Ger­man, a lan­guage she learned dur­ing her six years un­der con­tract to the Frank­furt club in Ger­many’s Bun­desliga sys­tem. And although that will al­low her to un­der­stand much of what the Ger­mans are say­ing dur­ing Tues­day’s Women’s World Cup semi­fi­nal, she’s not sure it will be of much help.

“I don’t know how quickly I’ll be able to tell my team­mates,” she said.

But Krieger does have some other knowl­edge that fig­ures to be use­ful. Be­cause 19 of the 23 play­ers on the Ger­man ros­ter play in the Bun­desliga — f ive are cur­rently with Frank­furt — Krieger knows many of them in­ti­mately, both as team­mates and op­po­nents.

“I’ve played with them more than I played against them,” said Krieger, who has faced Ger­many just twice as a mem­ber of the U. S. na­tional team. “They’re good one ver­sus one, at­tack­ing. They can shoot from any­where. And they’re strong in the air as well.”

Mor­gan Brian, whose play as a hold­ing midfielder was key in the Amer­i­cans’ quar­ter­fi­nal win over China, also knows the Ger­mans well, hav­ing played on a U. S. team that lost to them in group play, then beat them in the f inal of the 2012 U- 20 Women’s World Cup.

“We’ve seen them be­fore,” said Brian, who also beat Ger­many in the U- 17 World Cup in 2008. “It takes an or­ga­nized team to de­fend Ger­many. They’re so good on the ball and in tight spa­ces. Ev­ery time we play Ger­many, whether it’s the 20s or the youth team or on the full team level, it’s a phys­i­cal game.”

Get­ting de­fen­sive

Brian, nor­mally an at­tack­ing midfielder, said she de­fended more against China than in any game she’s ever played. That freed Carli Lloyd, Brian’s team­mate on the Hous­ton Dash of the Na­tional Women’s Soc­cer League, to play her best game of the tour­na­ment.

But with mid­field­ers Me­gan Rapi­noe and Lau­ren Hol­i­day re­turn­ing from onegame sus­pen­sions, Brian said she’s un­cer­tain if she’ll play against Ger­many. She said she’s ready for what­ever role is handed to her.

“For me, it’s more of just do­ing what the team needs,” Brian said. “Yes, I want to go for­ward. And I have to hold my­self back some­times. I’ve al­ways liked to de­fend. One of my strengths is de­fend­ing, even as an at­tacker.”

Bard­s­ley’s sta­tus un­cer­tain

Eng­land goal­keeper Karen Bard­s­ley, who left Satur­day’s semi­fi­nal early in the sec­ond half af­ter her right eye be­gan to swell, is ex­pected to be able to play against Ja­pan on Wed­nes­day.

Coach Mark Samp­son said Sun­day that the swelling had gone down and that he was con­fi­dent Bard­s­ley would be avail­able for the semi­fi­nal, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

Bard­s­ley, a two- time con­fer­ence keeper of the year at Cal State Fuller­ton, was be­lieved to have suf­fered an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion. She was re­placed in the quar­ter­fi­nal game against Canada by Siob­han Cham­ber­lain, who was able to pro­tect Eng­land’s one- goal lead, lift­ing the team into the World Cup semi­fi­nals for the first time.

U. S. draws record TV au­di­ence

Fox said the Amer­i­cans’ quar­ter­fi­nal win over China on Fri­day drew 5.7 mil­lion view­ers, the third- largest au­di­ence for a women’s soc­cer game on U. S. tele­vi­sion. The 1999 World Cup fi­nal be­tween the U. S. and China and the Ja­pan- U. S. fi­nal four years ago are the only games that were watched by more peo­ple.

The net­work also drew 5 mil­lion view­ers for the U. S. win over Nige­ria in the f inal game of group play.

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