The semifinal is not exactly the most ideal time to see a player earn her first World Cup minutes, but that is exactly what defender Becky Sauerbrunn and the United States Women's National Team face on Wednesday against France.
With Rachel Buehler sent off in the 65th minute against Brazil for pulling down Marta, Sauerbrunn will get the call alongside Christie Rampone against a French team featuring the likes of Gaëtane Thiney, Marie-Laure Delie and Lousia Necib.
It is far from an ideal situation, but it could be a lot worse. Sauerbrunn played the full 90 minutes in both May friendly matches against Japan (both 2-0 wins) and was the best US defender on both occasions.
At that time, Sauerbrunn was stepping in for Rampone, who was still recovering from a groin injury. In that setting, Sauerbrunn was patient in possession and perfectly positioned to destroy Japan's attacks. She was never seriously considered as a threat to the starting jobs of Rampone or Buehler, but Sauerbrunn did prove that there are at least three center backs capable of starting (four including Amy LePeilbet, who head coach Pia Sundhage has started at left back).
So even though the 26-year-old Sauerbrunn will be making her first World Cup appearance, her teammates have few worries about an adjustment period.
"She is an excellent player," US right back Ali Krieger said of Sauerbrunn. "She's strong, she's confident and she is going to do an amazing job.
"She knows what she has to do, and we all trust in her, and we believe in her, that she is going to play well. She has been excellent in training, so there is no doubt that she is going to step in and be 100 percent. I look forward to playing next to her.
"We have the same game plan no matter who is in there. It's to stay strong, stay compact and play as a team and for each other, and we have each other's backs."
Krieger and Sauerbrunn played together even before the two made their surges over the last year into the national team picture. Both played for Women's Professional Soccer's Washington Freedom in 2009.
Sauerbrunn will likely line up at right center back, just to the inside of Krieger. In her first appearance of the tournament, Sauerbrunn will have her hands full, but the current magicJack defender should be up to par with a US back line that has conceded only four goals in four matches.