The United States and Germany face each other in the semifinals of the Women's World Cup on Sunday in Portland, Oregon, while the second match will feature Canada and Sweden. The fast and talented German team constitute a threat the U.S. women are preparing to defend against.
Maren Meinert is big. Maren Meinert is fast. Maren Meinert is agile. She plays forward and she scores. The German team is very deep with talent. But when you listen to the players talk about their next opponent, Meinert's name is usually the first they mention.
Meinert played professionally in the United States for the past three seasons, and was named the 2003 Most-Valuable-Player in the now defunct WUSA league. She recorded a league-record 15 assists in 2002, with seven goals for 29 points. U.S. Captain Julie Foudy says Meinert's talents were obviously developed early in life.
"By watching her play, you can tell she has grown up with the game of soccer, not only played it, but watched it. And that is one of the big things we talked about as teammates on the Breakers. Because we would compare," she said. "We [the U.S. players] did not get brought up on the game. I did not watch it on TV. She is so smart on the ball. She does not lose the ball. She sees those runs that a lot of players do not see to serve it to their end. And she is very patient."
Mia Hamm, who is considered to be the best women's soccer player in the world, also admires Meinert's ball skills.
"Tactically, she understands the game. Technically, there are just certain parts of the field that Marin just does not lose the ball," she said. "And it is usually in the attacking third [part of the field]. She just does not give it up. She makes some of the smartest decisions. But technically, she can serve different types of balls. You saw it against Argentina. She scored two clinical finishes. Then she is finding players inside the box."
Meinert has scored twice so far in the tournament. Paired with Birgit Prinz, who leads this year's Women's World Cup with six goals, Meinert is in a great position to add to her total or create chances for her teammates. That will pose a big challenge for the United States defense.