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3 things to watch for in USWNT vs. Germany

Here's what you should be looking out for to see what the United States is trying to do, and if they're putting themselves in a good place to beat Germany.

The really hard games have finally arrived. The United States are minor underdogs against Germany on Tuesday, and will need to play their best game of the tournament so far to make it to the Women's World Cup final. Here's what you should keep an eye on as the game unfolds to figure out what the USWNT are trying to accomplish and how well they're pulling that off.

1. What is the right midfielder doing?

The right midfield spot has been in flux all tournament, and Jill Ellis has yet to figure out exactly what she should do with it. She's used a true winger, a defensive winger, a central midfielder and a striker in that spot during the tournament, and it's anyone's guess what she does against Germany.

If Kelley O'Hara or Heather O'Reilly plays there, they're probably going to run up and down the touchline, beat defenders and look for crossing opportunities. If it's Lauren Holiday, Carli Lloyd or Morgan Brian, they're going to pinch in to help the midfield a lot. And if it's Christen Press ... who knows. She could play like a true winger or an inside forward.

In any event, what that player does is going to tell you a lot about what Ellis is trying to accomplish and what she thinks her team needs to beat Germany

2. What is Alex Morgan's strike partner doing?

Morgan is good enough that she can drop deep, combine with midfielders and create for other players, but it's a bit of a waste. She's the best goal-scorer the Americans have, and there are lots of other players who are good at holding up the ball and creating.

If Amy Rodriguez starts again, this shouldn't be a problem. She's happy to do the dirty work for Morgan while making the occasional run in behind the defense when the opportunity arises. But if Abby Wambach or Christen Press starts? Well, someone's game is going to have to change. If Press/Wambach and Morgan are both staying up high, looking to get on the end of crosses and long balls, the USWNT isn't likely to create much of anything.

Morgan can play with those two, but one striker will have to sacrifice for the other. Morgan shouldn't be the one sacrificing, but the one that the rest of the team accommodates.

3. How is Germany moving the ball up?

Germany isn't a team devoid of athletes, but the United States' main advantage is still size, strength and speed. One way they can utilize that advantage is by forcing Germany to hit long balls forward, instead of working the ball forward on the ground. If the USWNT can make Germany's central defenders play it long out of the back instead of passing to midfielders, they're going to have a much better chance of stopping Germany's attacks and starting dangerous ones of their own.