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USWNT 2, Germany 1: On defining moments and keeping perspective

© Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Call it relief. Call it desperation. Call it lucky (that might be harsh): The United States women’s national team defeated Germany, 2-1 on Sunday to avoid the futile record of the first four-game losing streak in program history.

The result matters for that reason alone, but the performance was of greater importance for a team that has struggled to secure an identity as it races toward next summer’s World Cup. The first half hardly brought those answers, but the second half, which saw the Americans erase a 1-0 deficit, might just become a defining moment of this cycle — either as a turning point or an anomaly that papered over the larger problems.

Either way, the U.S. ended 2022 on a much-needed high note. Before shifting attention to a pair of games away against New Zealand in January, let’s break down what happened on Sunday.

The press changed the game

Sunday’s second half brought the return of the U.S. team so many have come to know over the past few years. The problem has been that this is not the same U.S. team from the past few years, given the heavy generational change. There lies the dilemma.

Right out of halftime, the U.S. put Germany’s back four under significant pressure, finally stepping high as a unit to force mistakes. Whereas Sophia Smith was pinned back in positions as a cover for right back Sofia Huerta at times in the first half, Smith was part of a front four that Germany had no answer for in the second half.

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