Carli Lloyd, take a bow.
The United States midfielder was brilliant in her country's semifinal matchup against Germany, scoring the team's first goal on a penalty and assisting on the second as the Americans advanced to the final for the second straight World Cup with a 2-0 win over Germany.
"It's a dream come true," Lloyd said after the match on the Fox broadcast. "This is what we trained for, the blood, sweat, tears, everything. I know this is a great win, but my eyes are on the final."
The U.S. becomes the first country to reach four Women's World Cup finals and will be looking to become the first to win three titles, per ESPN's SportsCenter.
The Americans played their best game of the tournament by a wide margin, especially dominating in the first half despite playing a 4-3-3 system rather than their traditional 4-4-2. Head coach Jill Ellis wasn't about to credit that switch in tactics for the team's performance, though.
"It's not about the system, it's about the players on the field," she said after the match. "They did a great job, they played their hearts out tonight, and I'm just so, so proud of them."
Ives Galarcep of Soccer By Ives was more inclined to give Ellis some credit for the victory:
And as Kyle McCarthy of Fox Sports noted, the Americans were simply at their best on this day:
They've also been ridiculously good defensively in this tournament, as SI Soccer noted:
The Germans actually held 51 percent of the possession and outshot the United States 15-12, though the Americans held the advantage in shots on goal (5-1) and corners (8-4). And, of course, they also held the advantage in the only category that really matters: goals scored.
The USWNT really dominated the first half. Despite the Germans coming out furiously in the first five minutes, pressing the United States and buzzing around the pitch, it was the Americans who seized control and really asserted their will in the first 45 minutes.
The United States also had the better of the chances. Julie Johnston's near-post run and deflection on goal in the seventh minute almost resulted in the game's first goal, but German keeper Nadine Angerer made a brilliant stop to keep the game level.
Then in the 14th minute, Tobin Heath split the German defense with a brilliant through ball, sending Alex Morgan alone on goal. But again Angerer came up big, making a clutch kick-save to preserve the draw.
Fox Soccer on Twitter passed along the key save:
Leander Schaerlaeckens of Fox Sports thought a less rusty Morgan would have put her effort home:
The United States finished the first half holding 55 percent of possession, outshooting the Germans 7-5 (3-0 on goal), and earning six corners to just two for Germany.
As Michael Cummings of Bleacher Report noted at the half, however, there was still reason for some concern for the U.S. women:
In the quarterfinal against Germany, the French dominated early but didn't finish their chances and eventually lost in penalties.
Indeed, the Germans changed their tactics after the break and again were the better team early in the half, creating a few nice chances on goal. And they appeared poised to score the game's opening goal after Johnston—who was so good for the U.S. in the first half—misjudged a bouncing ball and tugged down Alexandra Popp in the box, leading to a penalty and a yellow for Johnston that could have easily been called a red.
The U.S. caught a lucky break when Germany did something that literally has never happened before, as Celia Sasic pulled her attempt wide. That made history, as ESPN Stats and Information noted:
Nine minutes later, the United States women converted a penalty of their own.
Morgan, who had been giving the German back line issues all game with her penetrating runs, beat Annike Krahn off the dribble and was clearly fouled. What wasn't so clear was where the foul occurred, as it appeared Krahn's tackle took place just outside of the box, but the referee pointed to the spot and Carli Lloyd converted, sending Angerer the wrong way and finding the back of the net.
"I just kept my eyes on the ball and slotted it home. I knew what I had to do," Lloyd said after the match.
As Julie Foudy of ESPN noted, it was a pretty fortuitous string of events for the Americans:
And Lloyd joined some illustrious company in the process, per Paul Carr of ESPN:
Lloyd wasn't done there, either.
With the Germans pressing forward late in the game, the United States hit them on the counterattack. Meghan Klingenberg found Lloyd on the edge of the box with a deft pass, and Lloyd promptly beat her marker to the touchline before flicking a cross toward second-half substitute Kelley O'Hara, who cut in front of her defender to deflect the ball home and give the United States a 2-0 lead.
That punched the team's ticket to the final and also marked a bit of history for the USWNT in the process, per Carr:
Former USMNT legend Landon Donovan tweeted out praise to late sub Abby Wambach, while also subliminally dissing his former coach Jurgen Klinsmann:
Awaiting will either be the team most Americans will want to see, Japan, who defeated the United States in the 2011 final, or the upstart English, whose run to the semifinals has been one of the biggest stories of the tournament.
Against either team, however, the United States will be favored after truly outplaying the No. 1 team in the world. Lloyd and company are going to be nearly impossible to beat if they play in the final like they just played against Germany.