In order to reach the top of the soccer world once again, the U.S. women’s soccer team will need to go through a familiar opponent from their glory days in China. The United States has reached the quarterfinals in all seven World Cups and it'll look to advance to the semifinals on Friday (7:30 p.m., FOX) as it takes on China in Ottawa. The winner will face either Germany or France (who play at 4 p.m. on Friday) next Tuesday at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (the former home of the Expos).
To this day, the most famous American women’s team sporting event ever has to be that epic 1999 World Cup Final where the U.S. beat China, 5-4, in penalty kicks at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California in front of 90,185 people. This year's Chinese team has reached this stage after going 1-1-1 in Group A (coming in second-place behind host Canada) and by earning a 1-0 win over Cameroon on Saturday in Edmonton in the round-of-16. The U.S., meanwhile, went 2-0-1 to capture the rugged Group D and it outlasted Colombia, 2-0, on Monday in Edmonton. As usual at this point, goals figure to be hard to come by. Toss in the fact that China has scored just four times in its four matches and the U.S. has scored just six times in its four matches and there's even more reason to believe that this one won't get wild.
The United States will be heavily favored to progress, but it won’t be easy without their two best midfielders. Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday are both suspended for one game after each picked up second yellow cards in the tournament.
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis gave a hint as to who will start for Rapinoe and Holliday as midfielder Morgan Brian and forward Christen Press were both used as second-half substitutes in the win over. Colombia. That would require a formation change, so if Ellis wants to keep the same shape then perhaps she’ll go with veteran midfielder Heather O’Reilly, who has yet to see the field in Canada.
“I know that the players that come in (for suspended players) will be confident of stepping in and doing well,” explained Ellis. “I have the utmost confidence in all the players that we have.”
On Friday, the Americans figure to lean on stars like Alex Morgan, who scored the first goal against Colombia (her first in Canada), midfielder Carli Lloyd (who clinched it by scoring the second goal on a penalty kick), and goalkeeper Hope Solo (who has rarely been tested since the opening match vs. Australia).