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Insider knowledge could help U.S. against Germany in Women's World Cup

U.S. defender Ali Krieger is fluent in German, a language she learned during her six years under contract to the Frankfurt club in Germany's Bundesliga system. And although that will allow her to understand much of what the Germans are saying during Tuesday's Women's World Cup semifinal, she's not sure it will be of much help.

"I don't know how quickly I'll be able to tell my teammates," she said.

But Krieger does have some other knowledge that figures to be useful. Because 19 of the 23 players on the German roster play in the Bundesliga — five are currently with Frankfurt — Krieger knows many of them intimately, both as teammates and opponents.

"I've played with them more than I played against them," said Krieger, who has faced Germany just twice as a member of the U.S. national team. "They're good one versus one, attacking. They can shoot from anywhere. And they're strong in the air as well."

Morgan Brian, whose play as a holding midfielder was key in the Americans' quarterfinal win over China, also knows the Germans well, having played on a U.S. team that lost to them in group play, then beat them in the final of the 2012 U-20 Women's World Cup.

"We've seen them before," said Brian, who also beat Germany in the U-17 World Cup in 2008. "It takes an organized team to defend Germany. They're so good on the ball and in tight spaces.

"Every time we play Germany, whether it's the 20s or the youth team or on the full team level, it's a physical game."

Getting defensive

Brian, normally an attacking midfielder, said she defended more against China than in any game she's ever played. That freed Carli Lloyd, Brian's teammate on the Houston Dash of the National Women's Soccer League, to play her best game of the tournament.

But with midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday returning from one-game suspensions, Brian said she's uncertain if she'll play against Germany. She said she's ready for whatever role is handed to her.

"For me, it's more of just doing what the team needs," Brian said. "Yes, I want to go forward. And I have to hold myself back sometimes.

"I've always liked to defend. One of my strengths is defending, even as an attacker."

Bardsley's status uncertain

England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, who left Saturday's semifinal early in the second half after her right eye began to swell, is expected to be able to play against Japan on Wednesday.

Coach Mark Sampson said Sunday that the swelling had gone down and that he was confident Bardsley would be available for the semifinal, the Associated Press reported.

Bardsley, a two-time conference keeper of the year at Cal State Fullerton, was believed to have suffered an allergic reaction. She was replaced in the quarterfinal game against Canada by Siobhan Chamberlain, who was able to protect England's one-goal lead, lifting the team into the World Cup semifinals for the first time.

U.S. draws record TV audience

Fox said the Americans' quarterfinal win over China on Friday drew 5.7 million viewers, the third-largest audience for a women's soccer game on U.S. television. The 1999 World Cup final between the U.S. and China and the Japan-U.S. final four years are the only games that were watched by more people.

The network also drew 5 million viewers for the U.S. win over Nigeria in the final game of group play.

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