Redemption for Boxxy! I was skeptical about the midfield lineup coming in, with two career central holding mids starting on the wings flaking Chalupny, but it worked. Osbourne shut down Kelly Smith and Shannon Boxx got off the schneid in a big way, with a lovely sequence starting when she won the ball 30 yards out with a trademark strong tackle and ending when she deftly touched the ball forward into space and sent a left-footed shot just inside the right post off the diving England keeper. That goal was bookended by another deadly strike from Wambach's head off a corner and Lil following on a grave misjudgment by the keeper.
Quality possession was the difference in this game, finally, although Greg Ryan's substitutions strategy--or, more accurately, the lack thereof--still mystifies me. 3-0 up you need to take the opportunity to rest legs and get unused players some minutes... so he inserted Carli Lloyd, again, instead of Lindsay Tarpley, and Kai, again, for a few meaningless minutes. I still think Tarpley and O'Reilly on the field at the same time would create problems for the Germany defense that would prevent them from being able to key on the Lilly-Wambach combination that has kept the US in the Cup thus far.
Mad props to Stephanie Lopez, who continues to not only be rock solid at outside back but is threatening to one-up the Wombat in the toughness department, taking three staples to close a head gash opened up by an England boot in the first half and returning to the field a scant two minutes later. Staples! Speaking of Wombat and head wounds, England need to get off it regarding the elbow to Faye White's nose. Wambach's not the intentional-elbow-to-the-face kind of player (none of the US players are, actually), and the replay clearly shows she was simply spinning around trying to possess the ball. It happens.
In other news, for the second Cup in a row, Australia get screwed by diving opposition and a complicit ref. Just like the Socceroos against Italy in the last men's Cup, the Matildas were victimized by a dive in (into, actually) the box that gave Brazil a penalty. Watch the replay to see the foul clearly occurring outside the area, with the impressive air under the swan dive landing the Brazilian in the area and the ball on the penalty spot. Then, in the second half, a hard tackle on an Australia player sixteen yards out went uncalled. I do not like this German referee. In any event, Brazil are through but showed vulnerability in the face of both set pieces and quick counter-attacks. O'Reilly's speed up top and the threat of Wambach in the air off of corners will be huge for the US.