WASHINGTON -- The first indication that it was going to be a dominating afternoon for the German women came moments before the first touch was played yesterday at RFK Stadium.
Lined up side by side with their Argentine opponents for the teams' respective national anthems, the Germans stood considerably taller and looked decisively sturdier.
Then, as expected, they were quicker, more skilled and better organized once play began, overwhelming World Cup-newcomer Argentina by a 6-1 score in the final match of Group C's preliminary round.
Germany advanced to the quarterfinal round without seeing a serious challenge, outscoring Canada, Japan and Argentina by a 13-2 margin to easily take the group's top spot with a 3-0 mark.
The win came at a potentially expensive price when central defender Steffi Jones -- falling on her own in the second half -- suffered a knee injury that German coach Tina Theune-Meyer said might be serious enough to keep her veteran out for the remainder of the tournament.
Germany will travel to Portland, Ore., to play in the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, but its opponent -- the second-place finisher of Group D -- won't be determined until first-round play is completed. Russia, China and Australia can all end up in that spot.
"I think we scored wonderful goals, but during the game we had many chances to score more goals. We put pressure on them," said Theune-Meyer. "The bad thing is Steffi Jones went out of the game with an injury. It seems she'll be out of the tournament. It is a knee injury but we don't know yet."
Theune-Meyer was right on when she said her German side scored a number of wonderful goals.
Forward Maren Meinert got it started in the game's third minute, neatly placing a half-volley in the right corner from 10 yards following a cross from Kristin Stegemann.
The Germans continued to methodically shred Argentina's defense throughout a four-goal, first-half flurry.
After captain Bettina Wiegmann made it 2-0 on a penalty kick, Birgit Prinz provided the highlight goal when, positioned slightly to the left of the goal about 10 yards out, she went up for a cross from Meinert and hit a half-volley that found the far right panel.
Meinert then scored her second goal -- a strike with her left foot that found the right corner from 14 yards in the 43rd minute -- to take the Germans into the halftime break with the 4-0 lead.
"It was our goal to win our group, but we didn't think it would be so easy," said Prinz.
With a lack of funding and only eight months to prepare, Argentina (0-3) was overmatched in the tournament, but will take it as a positive step forward with more support promised from the Argentine Football Association.
Despite trailing 4-0, the South Americans played a spirited second half and were rewarded with their first World Cup goal when halftime substitute Yanina Gaitan scored in the 71st minute.