2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarterfinals: United States vs China

2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Quarterfinals
United States vs China
TD Place – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Friday, June 26, 2015 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NBC Universo
Spread: USA -1 (-125) / China +1 (+110)
Money Line: USA -224 / China +851 / Draw +331
Odds to Advance: USA -525 / China +415
Total: over 2 -125 / under 2 +110
All odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks

America East Tournament Preview
The United States is favored against China in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals Friday in Ottawa.

The last time the United States and China played in the Women’s World Cup ended up being the most memorable game in Women’s soccer history. The US beat China in a penalty kick shootout in the 1999 World Cup Final. Brandi Chastain scored the game winning goal setting up the iconic moment where she removed her jersey and exposed her sports bra.

Sixteen years later, the two teams meet in the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup Friday in Ottawa. The winner will face either Germany or France in the semifinals next week.

The United States are the #2 ranked team in the world and were the #1 seed in group D. The Americans opened group play with a 3-1 win over Australia, and then settled for a scoreless draw against Sweden. The US won the group with a 1-0 win over Nigeria, but Nigeria played with only 10 women for a lot of the match. In the round of 16, the United States won 2-0 against Colombia Monday in Edmonton.

As they have throughout the tournament, the Americans struggled on offense against Colombia. Colombia was already starting back-up keeper Catalina Perez after the starter Sandra Sepulveda had two yellow cards during group play. Early in the second half against the US, Perez came out of the box and tackled Alex Morgan. Perez was sent off with a red card and third string keeper Stefany Castano came in. Colombia played the rest of the game with 10 women. Shockingly, Abby Wambach missed a penalty kick and didn’t even hit the post. Morgan would later score and Carli Lloyd added a penalty kick to make the final 2-0. The US had a goal disallowed because of offsides in the first half. The win was costly as midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday each were booked for their second yellow cards of the tournament and will miss the quarterfinals.

China was placed into group A. The Chinese lost a heartbreaker against host nation Canada 1-0 when Canada converted a stoppage time penalty kick in the opening match. China was on the opposite end of that emotional spectrum when they converted a stoppage time goal of their own against the Netherlands in a 1-0 victory in the second match. China played New Zealand to a 2-2 draw but the Chinese still finished second in the group by goal differential over the Netherlands. China beat Cameroon 1-0 in the round of 16 Saturday in Edmonton.

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The United States is 3-0-3 all time in competitive matches against China, but they haven’t played since the 2000 Olympics. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in a friendly in December.

The United States is coached by Jill Ellis. The Americans need to create more offense, but it will be difficult without Rapinoe who has had a hand in five of the six goals the US has scored in the tournament. There are calls for the US to switch from the unimaginative  4-4-2 formation they have used in four matches of the World Cup.

The defense has been a bright spot for the Americans, conceding only one goal in four matches. Goalkeeper Hope Solo has been spectacular, despite some calls for her to be suspended after a well publicized domestic violence incident involving her nephew last year.

The US attack is led by Morgan and Wambach, but each has struggled to create offense. Both have started the last two games after coming off the bench against Sweden. Each has a goal so far in the tournament. Wambach is the leading scorer in Women’s World Cup history but she is at the end of a brilliant career. Christen Press or Heather O’Reilly will likely start in place of Rapinoe in the midfield, and Morgan Brian will replace Holiday.

China is coached by Hao Wei. The young Chinese team has an average age of 23 and has already defied expectations by reaching the quarterfinals. China doesn’t have a player over the age of 26 on the roster. China officially uses a 4-2-3-1 formation but it is a very unorthodox style as the defenders essentially play in the midfield as well. They clog up the center of the pitch leaving the flanks wide open. It has worked as China has only conceded two goals in open play against New Zealand.

Goalkeeper Fei Wang has been very good in the tournament so far. Shanshan Wang and Lisi Wang each have 2 goals, and no other player has scored for China in the tournament.

The US lack of offense might not be a problem against China who really can’t score either. However, if the US is lucky enough to advance to the semifinals it will be a big issue against high scoring Germany or France. I think the United States finds a way to win a low scoring game 1-0 to advance but it won’t be easy.

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