By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports
After a 2-0 win over Colombia in the Round of 16 stage on Monday, the US Women’s National team advanced to the Quarterfinals of the tournament to face China. In winning against Colombia the US recorded its third consecutive shutout of the tournament. They were also the beneficiaries of a red card against the Colombian goalkeeper and two penalty kicks being awarded for takedowns in the box. The US converted only one of those chances, but also got a goal from Alex Morgan.
Meanwhile, China in their knockout stage match-up with Cameroon got a goal in the 12th minute and then locked down the Cameroonians for the rest of the day. As the match-up with the US looms tonight at 7pm, here’s what you need to know about the two teams.
US Will Be Without Two Top Players
Due to the accumulation of yellow cards (each got one in the Colombia match) midfielders Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe will miss tonight’s match. That’s huge. Rapinoe is the main reason that the US won in their first group stage game against Australia, and has played the facilitator role on serving balls into the box. Meanwhile, Holiday has been the main threat on set pieces giving good balls into the box, also has played solidly (if unspectacularly) in central midfield connecting the back four and the forwards. There’s some interesting decisions facing head coach Jill Ellis as to who takes their spots for tonight.
China Is Very Good Defensively
The Chinese won’t bring too much pressure on the attacking front. They’re certainly not going to bring the same speed or creativity that the Colombians did in giving the Americans fits. But, they can absolutely keep opponents out of dangerous positions. They’ve had 2 shutouts in the tournament (one fewer than the US) and are very disciplined in their responsibilities in front of goal.
Rematch of the 99 Cup Final
This may be the most important thing to know. This is the first time since the 1999 World Cup Final that the two sides will meet in the World Cup. 1999 was of course the last time that the US won the World Cup, and they won it in memorable fashion.[youtube: “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbdddwVP7X4”%5D
That’s one of the most iconic moments in US Women’s soccer and one of the most devastating for the Chinese. Now, the only player on either of those teams from 16 years ago is Christie Rampone who made just one appearance in the 1999 tournament. However, I’m sure it will be discussed.
US Has Dominated All-Time Series
The United States is 32-8-13 in 53 meetings with China. Not only have they dominated over the course of the all-time series, but they’ve been unbeatable (literally) over the past 12 years. The last loss for the US side against China came in 2003. Since then, they are 20-0-4. However, that comes with a caveat. The last time the two sides met in December of last year it was a 1-1 draw. 19 players on the US World Cup roster were on the roster for that game and 14 for the Chinese.
The Chinese are one of the youngest teams in the tournament with an average age of 23 on their roster. On the flip side the US is one of the oldest teams in the tournament with an average age of 28. So the age old question comes into play. What wins? Youth or experience?
One thing is for sure, the US will have to play much better than they did against Colombia and Nigeria in order to come away with a win and advance to the semi-final.
(Note: an earlier version of this article noted that China had given up 3 goals the same as the US when in fact it was meant to say 2 shutouts one fewer the US. Also Christie Rampone was on the 1999 team, but not on the original roster named by head coach Tony Dicicco)
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him. Agree/Disagree? Thoughts, comments, complaints? Email him.