The United States defeated China tonight 1-0 to advance to a dream semifinal matchup with the world’s number one ranked team Germany.
The U.S. came out aggressively tonight at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Stadium pinning this young China side back in its own half for most of the match with its high press.
The Americans had to make due without two top starters in Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday, who were lost to yellow card accumulation. Coach Jill Ellis further shook things up by replacing Abby Wambach with Amy Rodriguez in the starting 11.
As expected Morgan Brian stepped in to the center of the park for Holiday, but Ellis turned a few heads by selecting Kelley O’Hara to deputize for Rapinoe.
The Yanks were on top from the start and Rodriguez should have had the U.S. on the board in the game’s second minute. Carli Lloyd sprung the speedy stand in who found herself in alone on Chineses keeper Weng Fei, but ARod badly scuffed her shot.
Rodriguez bounced back well and with her fellow newcomers played a big part in this impressive performance.
Rodriguez was a mobile partner up top for Alex Morgan and the duo had the China defense on its heels throughout.
Brian was a calming influence in a U.S. midfield that resorted to the hopeful long ball far less often than usual, while O’Hara teamed nicely with fullback Ali Krieger to dominate the right side of the field.
The Americans were virtually in complete control throughout the opening half, but as has been the case in this World Cup, the goals wouldn’t come.
After a bleep worthy sideline pep talk from Wambach the U.S. stormed onto the field looking for that elusive first goal.
ARod shot wildly two minutes into the second half before the favorites misfired on a corner kick. A 51st minute foul on the elusive trickster Tobin Heath led to the badly needed breakthrough for the U.S.
Klingenberg’s pass switched the field, finding Julie Johnston on what looked like a planned play. Johnston floated a well placed long ball into the box where Lloyd out leaped the defense to power home a powerful header.
With almost 40 minutes left to play the U.S. looked likely to add to their lead against the youngest team in the tournament.
O’Hara took a bang on the nose, and badly bloodied had to be replaced. Christen Press got the call and was dangerous once she checked in.
At times China left observers wondering if they wanted to win this match, sending very few attackers forward even when a chance seemed to be on.
A second U.S. goal was not on the cards tonight, but the impressive American defense pitched its fourth shutout in a row and have given up just one goal as they head to the semifinals.
Germany will be waiting for the Americans having escaped with a penalty kick victory in the quarterfinals despite being outplayed by misfiring France.
The quarter finals conclude tomorrow with defending World Champions Japan facing upstart Australia, before England challenge the host nation Canada.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
CHN 0 0 0
USA – Carli Lloyd (Julie Johnston) 51st minute
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 19-Julie Johnston, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 22-Meghan Klingenberg; 5-Kelley O’Hara (23-Christen Press, 61), 14-Morgan Brian, 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 17-Tobin Heath; 8-Amy Rodriguez (20-Abby Wambach, 86), 13-Alex Morgan (9-Heather O’Reilly,81)
Subs Not Used: 2-Sydney Leroux, 3-Christie Rampone, 6-Whitney Engen, 7-Shannon Boxx, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 16-Lori Chalupny, 18-Ashlyn Harris, 21-Alyssa Naeher,
Not Available: 12-Lauren Holiday, 15-Megan Rapinoe
Head coach: Jill Ellis
CHN: 12- Wang Fei; 5- Wu Haiyan (capt.), 14- Zhao Rong, 6- Li Dongna, 2- Liu Shanshan; 21- Wang Lisi, 19-Tan Ruyin (3-Pang Fengyue, 58), 16- Lou Jiahui (11-Wang Shuang, 35), 23- Ren Guixin, 18- Han Peng (13- Tang Jiali, 18); 9- Wang Shanshan
Subs not used: 1- Zhang Yue, 4- Li Jiayue, 7- Xu Yanlu, 8- Ma Jun, 10- Li Ying, 15- Lei Jiahui, 17- Gu Yasha, 20- Zhang Rui, 22- Zhao Lina
Head coach: Hao Wei
Stats Summary: USA / CHN
Shots: 17 / 6
Shots on Goal: 4 / 2
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 3
Fouls: 11 / 10
Offside: 7 / 2
CHN – Wu Haiyan (caution) 50th minute