June 25, 2015
By Michael Lewis
SOME NEW LIFE
USA women can prove they are for real by playing well in Women's World Cup quarterfinals
OTTAWA, Ontario -- For four games, American soccer fans have waited -- patiently and impatiently -- for the U.S. women's national team to break out of its offensive funk.
|Becky Sauerbrun: " When it finally does click, we're going to be very fearsome."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
And for four games they have been disappointed.
Perhaps the fifth time will be the charm so there will be a sixth and maybe a seventh game.
The Americans take on China in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women's World Cup Friday at Lansdowne Stadium (7:30 pm ET, FOX) with the hopes of reaching the semifinals of the competition for an unprecedented seventh successive time.
"We have a new mindset that the tournament is starting now," USA right back Ali Krieger said. "Fully prepared. We're confident. This is it. This is what we've been working for our entire lives. We're going to show up and have some fun."
Fun would be reaching the semifinals against the Germany-France quarterfinal, which will be played several hours earlier in the day. The winners will meet in the semifinals in Montreal on Tuesday for the right to advance to Vancouver for the July 5 final.
The 3-0-1 USA has not been running on all cylinders. The Americans' defensive has been superb, allowing only one goal, but their attack has been lethargic and disappointing, find the net only six times.
Center back Becky Sauerbrunn said that the best was yet to come.
"We know we haven't played our best," she said. "We're working through that. I think it's getting better with each game and when it finally does click, we're going to be very fearsome."
The Americans will have to be fearsome without half their midfield as Megan Rapinoe, the side's best all-around attacking threat, and Lauren Holiday, who has set the pace, will be serving one-game yellow-card bans.
Their probably replacements are Christen Press taking on Rapinoe's duties on the left side, and Morgan Brian, the youngest player on the team at 22, teaming with Carli Lloyd in the middle.
Given her age -- 35 -- it was not known whether Abby Wambach will start. She has logged 150 minutes in her last matches as the veteran striker has struggled to find her form.
Whether Wambach starts could be up to what China will bring to the table Friday.
"Abby has some unique tools," USA head coach Jill Ellis said. The decision against Colombia we felt again on set pieces and ball in the box, we would have a very good chance in the air with her presence. I look at China and what they present and what tools we have to break them down. That's kind of how I approach it.
“Her recovery, I think she would be ready to go 90 minutes certainly if asked and if it happens."
If the game is tied after regulation and extratime, penalty kicks will decide matters, as it did in the 1999 final between these two sides. The USA prevailed in that game as Brandi Chastain converted the winning penalty-kick.