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June 25, 2015
U.S., China intertwined in World Cup as both need a win Friday

By Lizzie Haldane
Soccer News Net contributor

The last time the United States and China squared off in a World Cup match, it produced an epic battle, the most watched soccer event in U.S. history and the Americans last World Championship.

The two sides meet Friday in a quarterfinal at Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa, with the Americans having never lost to the Steel Roses in the World Cup---can they continue that streak?

Highlights from the 1999 Women’s World Cup final:

The two teams are 32-8-14 to the Americans’ advantage, with 93 goals for & 35 goals against. Of the remaining teams in the tournament, FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Stats & Info gave China the worst odds to win it all (65/1) in comparison to the second-placed USA (2/1). The oddsmakers also believe China only has a 12% chance of defeating the Red, White and Blue in the knockout game.

The last time the two teams met was December 10, 2014 with 1-1 draw:

Midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday will miss the quarterfinals after yellow card accumulation in the 2-0 victory over Colombia. Despite the absences, United States has touted a deep bench which will be utilized. In the previous match, U.S. head coach Jill Ellis hinted that she would put Morgan Brian and Christen Press in the openings.

A natural fit to step in for Rapinoe would be Press, who scored the game winner against Australia in her World Cup debut. Effective as a midfielder and forward, the fast and versatile striker has the ability to finish when it matters. But there is more to Press that we have yet to see.

“I think that what [Jill Ellis] wants from me is for me to play at my 100%,” said Press. “I definitely think I’ve had good performances, and I’m proud of what I’ve done, but I haven’t hit my 100.”

Primed to step into Holiday’s role, Brian has already proven her worth, completing 14 out of 16 passes in her 21 minutes against Colombia. Playing alongside Houston Dash teammate, Carli Lloyd, will be an added benefit too.

“In our games, we’ve partnered [with certain players] specifically because we knew she would be one of the players to come in,” said Ellis. “[Brian] is a tremendous ball distributor.”

Both Brian and Press contribute significant attacking roles, and their presence comes at a time when the United States needs to get on the board, early and often, to ensure a place in the semifinals. Keep in mind, the United States has never failed to reach a semifinal.

Even though none of the Chinese players on the current roster were present on that fateful day in Pasadena, Calif., there is still a lot riding on their backs too, as the once Women's soccer power tries to regain its prominence.

After advancing to the quarterfinals in each of the first five Women's World Cups, they failed to qualify for the 2011 event in Germany and for the 2012 London Olympics. The team has gone through 12 coaches since 2000. Their current coach, Hao Wei, was expelled as a result of play interference against New Zealand and missed the Round of 16 match. He will be returning to the helm for the quarterfinal matchup.

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