US fans can take satisfaction in the fact that the last time the U.S. played China in the Women’s World Cup, Brandi Chastain won her team a World Cup. But today’s game is a much different game. This isn’t a powerful and dominate Chinese team and this isn’t a sure and confident American squad.
Once again the headlines leading into this match were all about the U.S. offense, both the good and the bad with positives and negatives coming out of their round of 16 match against Colombia.
A combination of luck and skill gave the U.S. Women’s National Team a 2-0 victory over Colombia. The American offense found some traction highlighted by Alex Morgan’s first start in a World Cup completed with her first goal of the tournament. As luck would have it, just as the U.S. offense showed some life, a referee intervened. Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday were shown their second yellow of the tournament meaning they will be unavailable for this match.
TV times for tonight’s match:
China v. USA
7:30 PM – FOX
Lansdowne Stadium – Ottawa
China played a smart, technical game against Cameroon in their round of 16 match. They fended off wave of early attacks from Cameroon before securing ball control and moving their way up the pitch for a 12th minute goal from Shanshan Wang. After that, China simply used their minds and will to hold off Cameroon, even without head coach Hao Wei on the sidelines. Wei was ejected against the team’s final group game against New Zealand.
It will not be China’s offense that creates problems for the U.S. It is their defense. China is very organized and disciplined along the backline and they create a bunker defense that pulls teams in. China is also a very opportunistic team. Many of their games have been close affairs, in fact three of the team’s game have come in 1-0 scorelines. This is because China knows they only need one goal to win. Find one goal and then sure up the defense.
That should play into the U.S.’s favor but the pressure will entirely be on the American offense to produce goals. Without Rapinoe it will be even more vital that Ellis plays a natural flank player, for instance Heather O’Reilly, to keep the field spread and the attack varied. O’Reilly’s speed and aggression could create problems for China’s backline.
The American defense cannot be drawn too far into the attack though. If the U.S. cannot find the back of the net, the U.S. outside backs may begin to push up, but this leaves room for China to score on one of those opportunistic goals they are so good at.
The U.S. can avoid all this if they simply score one or two early goals. China does have the skill to come back from a large goal deficit, especially if the US can get an early goal.
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