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USWNT vs. Germany rewind: Looking back at the history of the rivalry

Megan Rapinoe and the USWNT celebrate after beating Germany in the semifinals of the 2015 World Cup. (Lars Baron/FIFA via Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team will end its year with two friendlies against Germany, the first on Thursday and the second on Sunday.

Thursday will mark the first time the two teams have played since 2018, and the first time they’ve played in a friendly since April 2013, a match that ended in a 3-3 tie.

In total, the teams have met 33 times, the most for the United States against any European team other than Norway (50) and Sweden (42). The USWNT holds a 22-4-7 advantage (W-L-D), including a victory in the 2015 World Cup semifinals and in the 1999 World Cup quarterfinals.

Germany is fresh off a runner-up finish at the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euros this summer, while the USWNT won the Concacaf W Championship weeks earlier. But the U.S. is coming off consecutive losses to England and Spain in October.

“Playing Germany in the final matches of the year will be ideal for our World Cup preparations for all of our players and coaching staff, but it’s also fantastic for all the fans,” USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “USA-Germany is always one of the most entertaining match-ups in women’s international soccer and it’s a rivalry that has some wonderful history as well.”

Ahead of Thursday’s match, Just Women’s Sports hit the rewind button. Take look back at three key matches in the history of the rivalry — going back to the USWNT’s most recent loss to Germany in 2003.

March 1, 2018 – SheBelieves Cup
USA 1 – Germany 0

The USWNT opened up its 2018 SheBelieves Cup championship run with a 1-0 win over Germany. It marked the third year in a row that the U.S. beat Germany in the tournament, including a gold-medal win over Germany in 2016, but the teams have not played since then.

Megan Rapinoe scored the game’s lone goal – the 35th of her career at the time – and was assisted by Alex Morgan. Fittingly, the two players will feature once again for the USWNT on Thursday.

June 30, 2015 – World Cup semifinal
USA 2 – Germany 0

The 2015 Women’s World Cup featured Germany as the top-ranked team in the world, but USWNT pulled out the upset win in the semifinal round.

Carli Lloyd and Kelley O’Hara each scored, and Hope Solo set the record for the longest shutout streak in U.S. World Cup history. Her 10th clean sheet also set the FIFA Women’s World Cup record.

But the game wasn’t without controversy, as Lloyd’s goal came on a penalty kick after a questionable call outside the box. O’Hara, though, provided a second goal to quiet the complaints and send her team to the final.

The USWNT would go on to win its third title, defeating Japan 5-2 in the final after Lloyd recorded her historic hat trick. Lloyd was named the tournament’s best player, tying for top scorer with Germany’s Célia Šašić at six goals apiece.

Carli Lloyd (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Germany at the 2015 World Cup. (Michael Chow/USA TODAY Sports)

Oct. 5, 2003: World Cup semifinal
USA 0 – Germany 3

Germany got the best of the USWNT in the World Cup semifinal in 2003 — and got revenge for its loss to the USWNT in the 1999 World Cup tournament.

German players gave credit in part to the eight-team WUSA, as the professional league gave them the opportunity to play with and against some of the best U.S. players outside of international competitions.

“This time, we knew we could play against them,” three-time FIFA World Player of the Year and all-time leading scorer Birgit Prinz told reporters after the game. “We knew that they are not better than us.”

In the 16th minute, Kerstin Garefrekes struck first. Two more stoppage time goals were added later as German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg recorded the clean sheet.

Germany would go on to win the World Cup, defeating Sweden 2-1, and Prinz would be named Player of the Tournament after scoring a tournament-high seven goals.

Since that World Cup defeat, the USWNT hasn’t lost to Germany, going 10-0-5 in the last 19 years. (Full disclosure: That does include one regulation tie but shootout loss to Germany at the 2006 Algarve Cup, but the USWNT still has had the clear upper hand.)

The USWNT will face Germany at 7 p.m. ET Thursday at DRV Pink Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and at 5 p.m. ET Sunday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Thursday’s game will air on Fox Sports 1, and Sunday’s game will air on ESPN.