The U.S. women’s soccer team is only two wins away from win­ning the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1999. We asked Tracey Leone, head coach of Northeastern’s women’s soccer team, to assess the club’s summer run in Ger­many. For more insight, follow Leone on Twitter @GoNUCoachLeone during today’s semi­final game between the U.S and France.

Soccer experts have called the United States’ shootout vic­tory over Brazil in the quar­ter­final round of the World Cup one of the most thrilling games in tour­na­ment his­tory. Where does the match rank among the all-​​time great games?

I think it ranks right up there with the most thrilling matches. For a team to fight through adver­sity in such an impor­tant games and then score with only sec­onds remaining while being down a player is phenomenal.

It was inter­esting to watch German fans, who truly appre­ciate soccer, start pulling for the U.S. after Brazil was allowed to re-​​take a penalty kick. Their sup­port was a tes­ta­ment to the tough­ness and deter­mi­na­tion of U.S. soccer.

What are the keys to suc­cess against France?

The U.S. team has a lot of con­fi­dence. Having said that, they are playing on short rest and had to travel for this match. They obvi­ously invested a great deal of phys­ical and emo­tional energy during the game against Brazil, so their ability to recover with respect to the body and mind will be crit­ical to their success.

Another chal­lenge will be playing without defender Rachel Buehler, who received a red card against Brazil. Who­ever takes her spot should be pre­pared because of all the training and games they have played together, but when­ever a coach makes a change in the back line, there’s always a chance for repercussions.

France has some major speed up front. To counter its speed, the U.S. back line must play a tight game and read the play very well, like the club did against Brazil. The U.S. must finish its chances. That’s the name of the game.

U.S. soccer hero Brandi Chastain’s game-​​winning shootout goal against China in the 1999 World Cup was sup­posed to have ele­vated the pop­u­larity of women’s soccer to unprece­dented heights, but the game never took off like expected. How would a U.S. win in this year’s World Cup influ­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion in women’s soccer at all levels of play?

The 1999 World Cup did pre­cede an explo­sion in soccer in both the U.S. and around the world. Since then, a lot of girls have started playing soccer, and that’s a won­derful thing to see. On the other hand, the World Cup win didn’t leave a lasting impact on the women’s pro­fes­sional soccer league in America.

I hope a win this year has some impact. For this sport to sur­vive, we need this league to be suc­cessful, but it has not grown like it was sup­posed to and there’s no real cer­tainty that it’s going to be around for­ever. All the players on the U.S. team play in the pro league and I’m hoping there will be a trickle down effect and par­tic­i­pa­tion will be improved.