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Today's Game

October 05, 2003|Grahame L. Jones

UNITED STATES vs GERMANY 4:30 p.m. at PGE Park, Portland, Ore., ESPN2, 46 (KFTR)

How they got here: The U.S. won Group A with a 3-0-0 record, defeating Sweden, Nigeria and North Korea, and then beat former world champion Norway, 1-0, in the quarterfinals. Germany won Group C with a 3-0-0 record, defeating Canada, Japan and Argentina, and then thrashed Russia, 7-1, in the quarterfinals.

Players to watch: American forwards Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm and Cindy Parlow have the ability to penetrate a largely untested German defense. German striker Birgit Prinz is the tournament's leading scorer, and midfielder Maren Meinert also can cause problems for the American back line.

Previous appearances: The U.S. won the World Cup in 1991 and 1999 and finished third in 1995. Its overall record in the event is 19-1-2. Germany, a five-time European champion, lost to the U.S., 5-2, in the semifinals in 1991, was runner-up to Norway in 1995, and lost, 3-2, in the quarterfinals to the U.S. in 1999. Coach Tina Theune-Meyer's team has an overall 13-5-2 World Cup record.

Quick look: The U.S. had a much more difficult path to the semifinals, something Coach April Heinrichs pointed out Saturday. "I hope that our difficult road and the group that we've played in and the quality of our opponents pays off for us, because I think it has sharpened us, it has certainly challenged us and it has made us a better team," she said. Germany's defense has not been put under real and sustained pressure in the tournament and could prove brittle despite the presence of top-class goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg.

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