Welcome to your quarterfinal-round thread for freedom as we get set to watch the USWNT take on China, with a spot in the semifinals on the line. You might recall the last time these two teams met in the World Cup:
That was a great day for freedom. It was the last time the U.S. won the Cup, doing it in dramatic fashion on that iconic Brandi Chastain penalty.
The Americans hold a 32-8-13 all-time lead in the series over FIFA's No. 16-ranked team, dating back to 1986. China's last win in the series came in January of 2003 on their home soil. The teams drew 1-1 in their last meeting in Brazil in December.
The United States will have to win without half its starting midfield, as both Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday will miss tonight's match on yellow card suspensions because FIFA's yellow card rules for the World Cup are stupid, especially when you go back and see how a couple of those yellows were "earned."
Anyway, Jill Ellis will have to make due with what she's got, and although she really should play Heather O'Reilly on the wing, she'll likely use Christen Press out of her natural position, simply because it's very difficult to keep someone that good on the bench. I look for Press to start in Rapinoe's spot and Morgan Brian to fill in for Holiday.
Here's how we got here: the U.S. won Group D by sandwiching wins over Australia and Nigeria around a 0-0 draw with Sweden, then taking down Colombia 2-0 in the Round of 16, despite missing a PK. China opened with a 1-0 loss to Canada on a bogus stoppage time penalty awarded to the hosts. The Chinese then defeated the Netherlands 1-0 and drew 2-2 against New Zealand, finishing second in the group by virtue of their head-to-head win over Holland. In the Round of 16, China defeated Cameroon 1-0 on a 12th-minute goal by defender Wang Shanshan, to advance against the U.S.
The Chinese are difficult to break down, as evidenced by the opening game in which Canada could not unlock them until the referee bailed them out. The Netherlands likewise failed to find a way in, and then the New Zealand draw was just one of those nutty games that happen sometimes.
New Zealand's first goal came after several players collided and went down in the box on a corner and the ball fell for defender Rebekah Stott at the back post. In the tournament, China has conceded only twice in the run of play and once on a penalty that should never have been. The Steel Roses will be a tough out.
In addition to the 1999 classic, the U.S. and China also met in the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup, held in Sweden. The two countries were lumped together in Group C and met in the first game, drawing 3-3. The Americans led 2-0 and 3-1 in that match, but the Chinese were resilient, scoring in the 74th and 79th minutes to tie it up. The USWNT won the group, despite finishing with the same 2-0-1 record with China, due to a +5 goal differential to their +4. That slim goal differential margin was provided by two stoppage-time goals by Carla Overbeck and Debbie Keller in the group stage finale against Australia -- a 4-1 win for the Yanks.
Can the Americans book their passage into the semis? Tune in tonight and take part here in our open thread to discuss the match.
And don't forget to vote in our poll below.
U.S. Women's National Team (4-4-2):
Goalkeeper: Hope Solo
Defenders: Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg
Midfielders: Tobin Heath, Morgan Brian, Carli Lloyd, Kelley O'Hara
Forwards: Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez
Goalkeeper: Wang Fei
Defenders: Liu Shanshan,Li Dongna, Zhao Rong, Wu Haiyan,
Defensive Midfielders: Ruyin Tan, Ren Guixin
Attacking MIdfielders: Wang Lisi, Lou Jiahui, Han Peng,
Forward: Wang Shanshan
Referee: Carina Vitulano (ITA)
AR1: Michelle O'Neill (IRL)
AR2: Tonja Paavola (FIN)
4th: Salome Di Iorio (ARG)
How to Watch:
Match time: 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Lansdowne Stadium - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
TV: FOX, NBC Universo
Live Stream: FOX Soccer 2GO USA
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