MONTREAL - The lexicon of American soccer has grown in many ways as the nation has embraced the world's game. Few fans bat an eye anymore upon hearing the words pitch, nil or tiki-taka.

Saying the word Germany, though, commands a special kind of attention - and that's even more true in the context of the Women's World Cup.

Tuesday night's semifinal at Olympic Stadium will be the fourth matchup between the United States and Germany on women's soccer's biggest stage. On each of the previous three occasions, the winner has gone on to win the championship. And throughout their shared history, the teams have served as measuring sticks for each other's rise to prominence.

The first World Cup meeting came in the inaugural tournament in 1991. The Americans won 5-2 in Guangzhou, China, behind two goals from April Henrichs - who would coach the team a decade later - and a hat trick from Carin Jennings. From there, they went on to defeat Norway in the final.

Eight years later in Landover, Md., the Germans served notice of their potential. In the quarterfinals of the 1999 World Cup, they took a 2-1 lead into halftime, but Brandi Chastain led a second-half comeback in a 3-2 United States win. The Americans didn't give up another for the rest of the tournament as they won what remains their most recent World Cup title.

Christie Rampone is the only current American player who was on the team that day. Sixteen years later, her memories - especially of Chastain's heroics - are still vivid.

"There's always a defining moment in every tournament that makes the team - I wouldn't say wake up, but just be aware of what's going on," Rampone said. "I think that just set the tone of what expectations from ourselves were at that moment. From that point on, every game we got better."

In 2003, the Germans officially arrived. Their 3-0 win in the semifinals - including two goals in second-half stoppage time - silenced a raucous crowd in soccer-mad Portland, Ore., and ended the dynasty that Chastain helped forge. Seven days later, Germany won the first of what would become back-to-back World Cup titles.

Rampone called it the day when the Germans "got belief." That strength carried them to glory in 2007, as well as European championships in 2005, 2009 and 2013.

Fox analyst Ariane Hingst helped marshal the defense on both the 2003 and 2007 German title-winning squads. To her, the 2003 World Cup brought not only belief, but also long-sought respect back home.

"Suddenly, you're all over the scene and people start recgonizing you," she said. "This is what really pushed women's soccer forward."

This time, the United States is measuring itself against Germany instead of the other way around. The Germans are the top team in FIFA's global rankings, and the Americans know what that means for perceptions at home and abroad.

"This is why we're here - we want to beat the best team in the world," said U.S. right back Ali Krieger, who played for six years in Germany's women's league.

The ties that bind German and American soccer extend well beyond the women's game, of course. Just ask U.S. men's coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who scored for Germany in a win over the United States at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Last year in Brazil, Klinsmann was pitted against his native country. Germany won 1-0, but the final score was overlooked as the United States still reached the knockout rounds.

Many fans still haven't forgotten perhaps the most infamous U.S.-Germany game of all: their meeting in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals. That, too, was a 1-0 German win. Americans who watched the breakfast-time kickoff at home will never forget the referee's ignorance of a Torsten Frings handball on the goal line, or Oliver Kahn's save for the ages of a shot from Landon Donovan.

If you're of an older vintage, perhaps you recall PBS' "Soccer Made In Germany" series, which gained near-cult status at its height in the 1980s. Or Franz Beckenbauer's pioneering years with the New York Cosmos in the old North American Soccer League. Or even the influence of ethnic clubs such as Vereinigung Erzgebirge in Warminster, which was playing soccer as far back as the 1930s.

On Tuesday, another chapter will be written in the rich history of German-American soccer relations. Rampone called it "a perfect game at this moment," between teams that "bring out the best in each other."

Nearly 50,000 people will be at Olympic Stadium for the occasion, and millions more will watch on TV around the world. It will be a special night for two nations with a special soccer bond.