The United States Women’s National Team endured a dismal international slate in October, dropping results to England and a greatly-reduced Spain. With the World Cup coming next year, the young squad has little time to transition and coalesce, but the aggressive slate of opponents could provide necessary challenges and pay future dividends. Next on the schedule are two friendlies against Germany, an old rival that appears to be emerging from a nadir. The matches are set for DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, respectively.
These are the 34th and 35th all-time meetings between the two nations, with the USWNT holding a 22-4-7 advantage. Germany is currently ranked third in the world by FIFA and qualified for the 2023 World Cup by finishing atop UEFA’s Group H with a 9-1-0 record, the lone blemish a 3-2 loss to Serbia. The program rolled through last summer’s UEFA European Women’s Championship, racking up a 3-0 record in Group B and defeating Austria and France before falling to England in the final, 2-1, in extra time. A recent friendly against France resulted in a 2-1 victory.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg was appointed to the manager role in April of 2018 after several years in charge of Switzerland. The former midfielder and two-time German Footballer of the Year led the team to a runner-up finish in last summer’s Euros. She rebounded from a quarterfinal appearance at the 2019 World Cup and the failure to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics, although the latter provided “peace and quiet” to “optimize and build on the basis that had been created.” The German Football Association opted to stand by her, which appears to have worked out for both parties.
Following the match against France, she expressed some trepidation about the upcoming friendlies due to fixture congestion. “The decisive factor was that we have a contractual obligation that dates back a long time,” said Voss-Tecklenburg. “We still owe that to the United States. I wouldn’t be upset if we had a different agreement. We’ve tried everything. We’ve had a lot of talks, including at the highest level.”
Voss-Tecklenburg initially named a 26-player roster for the pair of friendlies with an additional five members on call. The group is missing Sara Däbritz, Marina Hegering, and Giulia Gwinn due to injuries. Melissa Kössler was added to replace Lea Schüller. The Frauen-Bundesliga provides 24 call-ups, mainly from VfL Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, TSG Hoffenheim, and Bayern Munich.
DEFENDERS (10): Nicole Anyomi (Eintracht Frankfurt), Sara Doorsoun (Eintracht Frankfurt), Jan Feldkamp (TSG Hoffenheim), Catherine Hendrich (VfL Wolfsburg), Sophia Kleinherne (Eintracht Frankfurt), Sjoeke Nuesken (Eintracht Frankfurt), Maximiliane Rall (Bayern Munich), Felicitas Rauch (VfL Wolfsburg), Caroline Simon (Bayern Munich), Joelle Wedemeyer (VfL Wolfsburg)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Jule Brand (VfL Wolfsburg), Linda Dallman (Bayern Munich), Chantal Hagel (TSG Hoffenheim), Melissa Koessler (TSG Hoffenheim), Paulina Krumbiegel (TSG Hoffenheim), Lena Lattwein (VfL Wolfsburg), Lina Magull (Bayern Munich), Janina Minge (SC Freiburg), Lena Sophie Oberdorf (VfL Wolfsburg)
FORWARDS (4): Svenja Huth (VfL Wolfsburg), Laura Freigang (Eintracht Frankfurt), Alexandra Popp (VfL Wolfsburg), Klara Bühl (Bayern Munich),
Voss-Tecklenburg typically deploys a 4-3-3 formation with “a flexible front line and fullbacks pushing up in support” that look to push the tempo. The swarming, aggressive style is a neutral viewer’s delight as players constantly overlap and spring into the box in an attempt to drive proceedings into the final third. Germany can sometimes get caught playing the ball out of the back and struggles to defend opponents cutting in from the wing, a far cry from the stingy defensive units of past cycles.
The presumed number one is Merle Frohms who started at the Euros. The 27-year-old recently moved from Eintracht Frankfurt to VfL Wolfsburg and brings a calm stability to the position, although there is a tendency to surrender the occasional rebound in the middle of the box. She possesses a flair for the dramatic and will pull out big saves when necessary. Veteran Almuth Schult of Angel City FC, who started at the 2016 Summer Olympics, may also feature in one of the matches.
Kathrin Hendrich has been a presence on the back line since making her senior international debut in 2014. The versatile 30-year-old Belgium-born defender contributes on both sides of the game and has the technical skill to dominate possession. Her partner will likely be Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh, who recently joined Wolfsburg from Eintracht Frankfurt. She is similarly active during the build-up, displaying speed and an intelligent understanding of position which help to derail the opposition’s attacks.
The left side of the back line is patrolled by Felicitas Rauch, who has enjoyed a larger share of responsibility in 2022. The athletic 26-year-old is the total package with the ability to defend wingers, thread passes, and make her own bombing runs into the final third. The opposite side of the field features Nicole Anyomi of Eintracht Frankfurt, a starter in the past few fixtures with loads of assists. Sometimes a forward, her attacking prowess adds another dimension to the high-octane style.
Voss-Tecklenburg has a full and varied slate of options for her midfield triangle. Lena Oberdorf is one of the squad’s young guns and competes for Wolfsburg. The 20-year-old clogs the formation and shuts down everything, whether through interceptions or physical tackles. For an advanced option, Linda Dallmann can line up in the hole behind the striker, a versatile multitool who has drawn comparisons to Thomas Müller. The Bayern Munich attacker displays the pace and elusiveness to beguile opponents and create space for teammates. Analytics FC describes Lena Lattwein as “perfect” and a “midfield general,” which is apt for the Ballon d’Or nominee. Her combination of playmaking and defensive contributions make her a terrifying and complete entity who can also register shifts at center back. After scoring three times at the Euro including in the final, there may be a necessity to start Lina Magull. Her instincts to push run-of-play forward and long passing are a perfect fit for the team’s vertical tactics.
One of the squad’s veterans, Svenja Huth hits a lot of crosses from both sides of the field. The 31-year-old Wolfsburg winger is an active presence and quickly attempts to reengage with the opponent after losing possession. Young Bayern Munich star Klara Bühl shoulders some of the scoring burden. She frequently cuts into the middle and serves as a target on aerial balls, with the necessary jumping ability to succeed.
Alexandra Popp is expected to lead the formation and provide most of the danger in the final third. The talismanic 31-year-old striker was named to the Team of the Tournament at the Euro and has twice been awarded Germany’s Football of the Year. She can score in every possible way and is particularly threatening in the air, claiming multiple headed goals. In addition, a constant work rate enables her to press the opponent and force turnovers, which causes some problems for the opponents.
ALEXANDRA POPP DOES IT AGAIN!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 27, 2022
Germany lead over France in the semifinal pic.twitter.com/6sTOB4LjAM
The USWNT is coming off a difficult pair of friendlies and could use a boost against a challenging rival. After a few years in the wilderness, Germany is on an upswing and should provide a stern challenge, despite concerns about fixture congestion. While the match-up portends a back-and-forth, high-scoring battle, there is always the opportunity for the back lines to put forth a shutout or two.
The first match is scheduled for Thursday, November 10th at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 p.m. Pacific. Viewing options include Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Live, and FUBO TV (free trial).
The second match is scheduled for Sunday, November 13th at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, 2:00 p.m. Pacific. Viewing options include ESPN, WatchESPN, and FUBO TV (free trial).