The USA has beaten England, ranked fifth in the world, and France, third in the FIFA rankings, and can complete a sweep of the SheBelieves Cup with a win over Germany, ranked No. 2, in the tournament
finale on Wednesday at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida. The game is a rematch of the 2015 Women's World Cup semifinal the USA won, 2-0, but a lot has changed for both teams since then.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis has made three changes in the lineup that won the Women's World Cup, one because of injury (17-year-old Mallory Pugh for Megan Rapinoe), another because of
retirement (Lindsey Horan for Lauren Holiday) and the third at right back (where Kelley O'Hara, who came off the bench in Montreal and scored the second goal against Germany,
has been starting ahead of Ali Krieger).
The game-changer has been Pugh, who didn't play her first game with the senior national team until January. Pugh is blessed with tremendous
pace, but she also showed her skill and vision as her perfectly timed through ball set up Alex Morgan for the stoppage-time winner in the 1-0 win over France on Sunday.
The biggest test of Pugh's young career will come Wednesday against Germany that is also
being rebuilt since the Women's World Cup, where it finished a disappointing fourth. But unlike 2011 when its quarterfinal exit knocked it out of the Olympics, Germany's fourth-place finish was good
enough for a berth at the Rio Olympics.
Silvia Neid, who will step down as German head coach after the Olympics in favor of German-American Steffi Jones, has had to replace
former FIFA Women's Player of the Year Nadine Angerer in goal and Celia Sasic up front and is without Simone Laudehr and Melanie Leupolz at the SheBelieves Cup.
But Germany remains solid down the middle with defenders Saskia Bartusiak and Annike Krahn, Lena Goessling in midfield and Anja Mittag up front.
might not have the attacking options of a team like France, which was unlucky not to score at least a couple goals in the first half Sunday in Nashville, but Neid has been working on Germany adopting
a more pressing game that could trouble the young U.S. midfield that has not created a lot of opportunities for the veteran attackers Carli Lloyd and Morgan.
Germany's top young
attacker, Sara Daebritz is suspended for Wednesday's match after receiving yellow cards in the first two games.
Germany has matched the USA's 1-0 wins over England and France with 2-1 and 1-0 wins over the same teams and will take the SheBelieves Cup with a win or tie against the USA.