Women’s World Cup: U.S. vs. France, U.S. leads at halftime
Although France started off the brighter and more adventurous of the two teams, it was the U.S. that took the lead when former UCLA standout Lauren Cheney scored in the ninth minute.
A back-heel pass from Carli Lloyd to Heather O'Reilly set O'Reilly free to run at the French, and her pass into the goal area was deflected past French goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz by Cheney.
It was Cheney's second goal of the tournament, having also scored the game-winner in the U.S.' opener against North Korea.
France tried shots on goal by Louisa Necib, Elise Bussaglia, Camille Abily and Gaetane Thiney, but they did not trouble U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.
The French did come close to tying it up in the 33rd minute, however, when Sonia Bompastor hammered a shot against the American crossbar after Ali Krieger had fouled Bompastor.
Pressure by the U.S. in the final five minutes of the half caused Bompastor and Sapowicz to collide, briefly shaking up both players, but they continued.
The half ended with the French having outshot the Americans, 5-3, and having earned a 6-3 edge in corner kicks. But the U.S. held the lead.
Pia Sundhage, the U.S. coach, was forced to make one lineup change from the starting 11 that took the field in the quarterfinal against Brazil. With defender Rachel Buehler serving a one-game red-card suspension, Sundhage opted to start Becky Sauerbrunn in her place in central defense.
Sauerbrunn, 26, a former University of Virginia defender, was making her World Cup debut.
France started two defenders and two midfielders from French and European club champion Olympique Lyonnais.
In Wednesday's later semifinal, Sweden will play Japan in Frankfurt, which is also the site of Sunday's championship final.
Check back here for an end-of-game report and for full coverage of both semifinals, please see www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/ later on Wednesday.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: Lauren Cheney, second left, celebrates scoring the opening goal past France goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz, right. Credit: Frank Augstein / Associated Press