CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in VANCOUVER: The United States have reached the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup but Sepp Blatter nor Jerome Valcke will be there to see pursue their ultimate goal in Vancouver this weekend.

Weeks of speculation ended when the world federation confirmed their absences. Blatter will thus be unable to hand over the trophy for the first time since he was elected as president of the world football federation in 1998.

The presence of both president and secretary-general Valcke had been in doubt ever since the United States Justice Department, across Canada’s southern border, opened a major investigation into corruption at the highest levels within the world game.

A FIFA spokesperson said: ”Due to their current commitments in Zurich, the FIFA president and the FIFA secretary-general will remain at the FIFA headquarters.”

Blatter and Valcke, however, are expected to attend the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw in St Petersburg at the end of July.

Women’s World Cup favourites Germany were denied their chance of reclaiming the trophy after losing 2-0 to the US.

Carli Lloyd scored from the penalty spot and then brilliantly set up Kelley O’Hara late on to wrap up the win and send the US to their fourth World Cup final.

The European champions were largely outplayed in the encounter at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

However they did have a golden chance to take the lead shortly after half-time when Alexandra Popp was pulled down in the box by US defender Julie Johnston.

Celia Sasic, the tournament’s leading scorer, stepped up but sent the ball wide.

Barely 13 minutes later and the US had a penalty of their own after forward Alex Morgan was obstructed, though replays showed the foul occurred outside of the box. Lloyd sent Nadine Angerer the wrong way to give her side the lead.

The US defence, which has not conceded a goal since their opening match against Australia, stood firm and nullified the European threat.

In the 84th minute, substitute O’Hara knocked in Lloyd’s cross to seal the win.

Jill Ellis, the USWNT head coach, said after the game: “We knew we had this in us… We had every belief we could win this game and that’s part of the spirit of the American player.”

Now for England or Japan

The US go on to Sunday’s final in Vancouver determined to improve on their runner-up finish four years ago and claim their first World Cup since 1999.

They will face the winner of Wednesday’s semi-final in Edmonton between England and Japan.

The latter are the reigning champions, but curiously suffered their only defeat at the previous World Cup to their European opponents and have in fact never beaten England.

Mark Sampson’s side are aiming to reach their first ever World Cup final and the head coach believes an upset is not insurmountable.

“There’s huge determination,” he said. “England will be the last team to leave Canada.

“We’re two wins away from being world champions and if you’d said that to us 18 months ago, I’m not sure anyone bar myself and some of the staff would have believed it.

“But, as time has passed, the players have grown in belief and now they feel as if something’s really happening, something’s going on, that there’s a higher purpose involved.”

England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley looks to be fit again to take her place after taking part in training.

The Manchester City player was taken off in the quarter-final win against Canada with an allergic reaction on her eye.