• Thursday Jul 02, 2015

    Pleased to progress, U.S. targets FWWC title

    Carli Lloyd (white jersey) was named Player of the Match for her performance in the USA's FIFA Women's World Cup semifinal win over Germany on June 30, 2015, in Montreal, Canada. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)

    MONTREAL -- Once the emotional dust settled from Tuesday’s sensational FIFA Women’s World Cup (FWWC) semifinal against Germany, United States head coach Jill Ellis and star midfielder Carli Lloyd were clearly delighted and, even, relieved.

    Lloyd scored a goal and assisted on the other in a 2-0 win.

    “I thought was an unbelievable duel between two tremendous teams,” said Ellis. “Germany is a great opponent who really tested us. Obviously we’re delighted to be moving on. We’ll enjoy this tonight and then turn our focus to our next opponent. Overall, though, I’m really pleased and proud of our players.”

    In a matchup that pitted the No.1 (Germany) and No. 2 (USA) teams in the world (according to the FIFA World Rankings), the CONCACAF champion shined brightest.

    “We started this tournament saying it was going to take 23 players,” said Lloyd, the Golden Ball recipient in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. “It really was a team performance. The crowd support, too. It was so incredibly loud. It was literally bringing chills to my arms.”

    While the partisan crowd certainly played a role on Tuesday at the Stade Olympique, it was Ellis’ tactical choice to play Lloyd in an advanced position that garnered much of the post-game attention.

    After patrolling the center of the park alongside Lauren Holliday for much of the USA’s five previous contests, Ellis decided to mix things up, ditching her more pragmatic 4-4-2 formation for an attack-minded 4-2-3-1 set up that saw Lloyd deployed just behind lone striker Alex Morgan. With the Houston Dash playmaker involved in both goals and the Germans clearly caught off guard, Ellis’ move proved a stroke of genius.

    “We played with two No. 6’s so that we could release Carli (Lloyd),” Ellis noted. “It just seemed like a natural fit. All of the players in the middle can play the [No. 10], but we pushed Carli in there because we knew we needed someone who could hold it for us, while also being able to turn and run at their back line. The players are flexible. We don't talk about systems; we talk about responsibilities, where they are on the field. I thought they all did a great job.”

    While the U.S. will enjoy the moment, the mission is not yet accomplished. A point Lloyd was crystal clear on.

    "We didn’t come here to just make the final,” concluded Lloyd. “We came here to win it.”

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