The two teams are 32-8-14 to the Americans’ advantage, with 93 goals for & 35 goals against. Of the remaining 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:
Remember the last time United States and China squared off in a Women’s World Cup match? As the most watched soccer moment in the States, the Americans took home the 1999 title, marking the last time they won the Cup. In the tournament’s history, the U.S. has never lost to China so the real question is, “Can the Americans continue the streak, when they take on the Steel Roses in the quarterfinals?
Highlights from the 1999 Women’s World Cup final
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 wold 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.
It has been a long journey since, as they failed to qualify for the 2011 event in Germany and 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 as a result. He will be returning to the helm for the quarterfinal matchup.
Women's World Cup: USA survive a scare and defeat Australia in Group D opener at Winnipeg Stadium
Special to MLSSoccer.com
U.S. women's national team fans can breathe easy.
It wasn't their best game, but the US women still came away 3-1 winners on Monday against a dangerous Australia side thanks to two goals from Megan Rapinoe, one from Christen Press and some great goalkeeping from Hope Solo.
The game's first came from Rapinoe after just 12 minutes. The US midfielder confidently cranked a shot from outside the box, which deflected off a defender and into the goal.
Wide open in front of net, Australian forward Lisa De Vanna retaliated with a left-footed first-time redirect in the 27th minute after some nifty build-up.
The score held at 1-1 until Press tallied the game-winner for her first-ever Women's World Cup goal and her 21st tally in 46 matches. It was also the USA's 100th all-time World Cup goal.
STANDINGS: See how Group D looks after the first group matches
Rapinoe sealed the deal in the 78th minute, but this time no deflection was necessary. It was a strike that clinched the win for the team and Player of the Match honors for her.
But it wasn't just about the goals scored for the USA. It's about the goals they denied. Goalkeeper Hope Solo, who was in the eye of a media maelstrom in recent days, played a major role in the victory. If it were not for Solo, the United States might have been down by two in the first half.
WATCH: Hope Solo's jaw-dropping first-half save
With superior passing and an ability to create chances, the Matildas started the match hungry, but ultimately couldn't keep it up as fitness proved the difference maker. As the game progressed, Australia tired and lost momentum. But, the Americans, ever-known for their tremendous fitness and superior athleticism, finished strong. That doesn't mean the Australians took it well:
The USWNT were comfortable enough during the second-half proceedings that coach Jill Ellis decided to bring on star forward Alex Morgan, whose last game came on April 4 against New Zealand due to a bone bruise in her knee.
Morgan replaced Sydney Leroux with the USA managing a two-goal cushion at 3-1 in minute 79. After eight weeks off the pitch, Morgan will surely need plenty more minutes to be a pivotal player later in the tournament. But the debate still rages on about whether the opener was the right match to reintroduce her again.
Group of Death? More like Group of Drama! The scoreline may not have reflected just how well Australia played, but the final result places the United States atop Group D with three points.
Monday's other group match featured a 3-3 thriller between Nigeria and Sweden which showcased many of their respective strengths and weaknesses ahead of their encounters with the USA, giving Ellis & Co. plenty to chew on in the coming days.
The USWNT next play Sweden on June 12 and then close out Group D play against Nigeria on June 16. And the support is expected to continue to be overwhelming from around the country. Here's how the nation experienced the game, according to Twitter:
And the US supporters in Winnipeg weren't too shabby themselves:
Among the USWNT fans seen on social media were artists like Paula Abdul as well as a host of NFL and NHL teams. But arguably the cutest supporter of the lot was seen with former United States powerhouse, and FIFA Female Player of the Century, Michelle Akers.
Group D has affectionately been dubbed the Group of Death since three of the four nations made FIFA's Top 10 rankings (No. 2 USA, No. 5 Sweden, No. 10 Australia, and Nigeria comes in at No. 33). Here are the five things you need to know before the opening whistle:
1) Dating back to 1987, USA has had the severe upper-hand against Australia, winning 22 matches and tying two. The Red, White and Blue have accrued 83 goals against the Aussies, over four times the goals against. However, the Matildas have had a steady climb since the first Women's World Cup in 1991 (did not qualify) but competed in the next three before exiting group competition for the first time in 2007. They also made it to the quarterfinals in 2011.
Known for its relentless play, Australia may not pose too much of a threat to the scoreline but will certainly challenge the United States to stay on task. Australia will put up a massive fight and make the USA work for its W. If either team takes a loss, it will be a huge setback for the remaining games, as neither want to vie for the wildcard "best third placed teams" position (four out of six advance to Round of 16).
Keep an eye out for Australia captain -- and FIFA Puskas Award 2013 nominee -- Lisa De Vanna, a strong-willed and aggressive forward who will be earning her 100th cap on game day.
2) The last time the two nations met was back in 2013 when the United States defeated Australia with a definitive 4-0 victory.
3) The biggest question mark of the match -- will Alex Morgan be ready to play? When asked if Morgan was fully training with the team on Saturday, U.S. Soccer spokesperson said "Not to my knowledge." But Morgan herself put those rumors to rest.
So, will she get much playing time on Monday? The line between cautious and injured remains blurred. Head coach Jill Ellis will not put Morgan into a position where she will not thrive 100 percent, which leaves her to only step onto the field if absolutely necessary and then, only for enough minutes just to get her rhythm back.
4) In the team's mind there are six more games to go and a deep and versatile bench to experiment with along the way. To the United States, it is not a matter of "will they win?" but "how will they do it?" If USA can hold off the Matildas all 90, prevent further injury and remain focused, the team will be well on its way to living through the Group of Death. As much as USWNT say they focus on one game at a time, they are looking ahead at Sweden, who poses the biggest threat in the early stages.
5) Of the 47 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) players to compete in the Women's World Cup, four come from Australia: Steph Catley (Portland Thorns), Caitlin Foord and Samantha Kerr (Sky Blue FC) and Katrina Gorry (FC Kansas City). Overall though, the two NWSL teams who share ownership with Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo boast 8 and 6 players, respectively.
Allysha Chapman, Erin McLeod and Lauren Sesselmann (Canada), and Morgan Brian, Meghan Klingenberg and Carli Lloyd (USA) represent the Dash. In addition to Catley, Kayln Kyle, Christine Sinclair and Rhian Wilkinson (Canada), Jodie Taylor (England), Nadine Angerer (Germany) and Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan (USA) represent the Thorns.
Monday could not come soon enough as the United States kicks off its Women's World Cup group play against Australia at Winnipeg Stadium (7:30pm ET on FOX Sports 1, NBC Universo).
Follow official hashtag #USAvAUS to stay up-to-date on game commentary as it happens.
Canada Use Stoppage-Time Penalty Kick To Beat China In 2015 Inaugural Match
Special to MLSSoccer.com
It was mission accomplished for the Canada women's national team after securing a 1-0 win over China in the opening match of the 2015 Women's World Cup on Saturday at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.
In front of 53,058 people – the largest crowd for any Canadian national team match in Canada – striker Christine Sinclair proved to be the difference maker. The captain put the game away in the 91st minute with a well-placed penalty kick, joining an elite group in the process.
WAS IT A PENALTY KICK?
There was some debate whether Canada received a hometown call with the late stoppage time penalty kick. Here's the foul that led to the penalty:
Canada coach John Herdman himself admitted "that's your home-field advantage," when discussing the penalty kick. He also said that "when the call came, I celebrated like we'd just scored."
STANDINGS: See how Group A looks after the first group matches
The fans at Commonwealth Stadium could not care any less judging by their reaction when the ball hit the back of the net:
Sinclair and her teammates celebrated the win like the monumental win that it was -- a group match at the biggest tournament for women's soccer in their own backyard. The three points will take some pressure off.
OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
As hosts, Canada really needed the "W." But China were organized, they remained disciplined and they bunkered down in the defense, proving to be impenetrable. As China dominated the flow and interrupted Canada's rhythm, the play was frantic in the first half.
A collective gasp from those in attendance came in the 23rd minute after China's Lisi Wang struck a free kick which dramatically bounced off both posts and then went out of play (WATCH THE CRAZY PLAY HERE).
But Herdman saw his side play with a lot more composure and they wound up outshooting their opponents 14-5. But Canada could not find the back of the net until the controversial PK.
An hour before the opener, none other than the biggest name from this past week's news cycle -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter -- wished the 24 nations good luck. And he shared some nifty facts about the tournament:
Canada is back in Group A action against New Zealand on Thursday, June 11, while China take on the Netherlands earlier that same day.
It only got worse as the game progressed since FIFA's gamecast used male pronouns -- "him" instead of "her" -- during the play-by-play.
Artificial turf stole the Saturday's commentary. According to an on-field thermometer, it came in at 120-degrees which was about 45-degrees hotter than the atmospheric temperature. The Twitterverse blew up about gender inequality and FIFA's lack of respect for the women's game. As the tournament progresses, the heat can prove to be a massive game-changer.
Special to MLSSoccer.com
Women's World Cup 2015 opens play Saturday, June 6 -- with host Canada versus former powerhouse China as the opening match (6pm ET, FOX Sports 1 and Telemundo in USA and CTV in Canada).
These are the five things you need to know before kickoff:
1) The two have played 26 times since 1987 for an overall 14-5-7 record in favor of the Chinese. However, the teams have only played head-to-head three times since coaches John Herdman (Canada) and Hao Wei (China) have taken their posts. During these matches Canada won by one goal each: 1-0 in 2012 and 2013, and 2-1 in most recently.
As hard as it is to believe that it has been sixteen years since the USA won, it is equally as hard to believe that China fell from grace. The country hosted the first ever Women's World Cup in 1991 and again in 2007 after pushing the responsibilities back from 2003 due to a SARS outbreak.
The last time the two met, at BaoAn Cup CFA Women's International Football tournament Shenzhen 2015 (also known as the Four Nations), Christine Sinclair scored back-to-back goals in under two minutes to overcome the team's 31st minute deficit and put the game away. For the first time in history, Canada went on to win the entire tournament, resulting in a total ego booster for the Big Red. However, the infrequency of recent play makes Saturday's opener a tad bit unpredictable.
2) Despite previous results, do not rule out China. They use to be a super power -- remember when they faced the United States in the final back in 1999?
China also took home silver at the first ever Olympic women's soccer competition in 1996. However, the team did not even qualify for the last tournament in 2011. Long surpassed by another Asian power - reigning WWC champion Japan, China has a chip on its shoulder. But then again so does Canada who has long been in the shadow of its Southern neighbor.
3) In years past, China has been known for its precision and Canada for its physicality. Because the teams will be playing different styles from one another, it will be imperative to adapt quickly while remaining focused to their own game plans. They are both known for playing quality to be dependent on their opponents' level.
The two nations have a recent common competitor, No. 6-ranked England -- Canada won 1-0 and China lost 2-1.
4) China has proven be a very secretive team. There are not many reports on its recent performances, which leads some to think they may have a few tricks up their sleeves or at least that is what they want us to think. Due to its inexperienced and fairly untested squad, it will most likely not continue deep into the tournament but it could place second in the group just for trying hard. Its primary purpose this year is to be a disruptor more than a contender. However, Canada really needs this win.
5) China has a lot at stake but Canada has even more. As host, they have a massive home field advantage. Canada will be riding an adrenaline rush after the Opening Ceremonies as the host of the tournament and in front of a sea of red, for the Red Nation not the Steel Roses.
Come game time there will be no more niceties -- who will handle the pressure best?
Women's World Cup: Everything you need to know about the Canada women's national team
SPECIAL TO MLSSOCCER.COM
From coast to coast, Canada Soccer - and its biggest names - welcomes the world to the biggest tournament in women's soccer.
But it would not be a proper celebration if there was no Opening Ceremonies to kick off the games on June 6 in Edmonton. Canada brought in homegrown talent: Vancouverite Sarah McLachlan and Alberta twins Tegan & Sara to unite and empower women. Grammy winner McLachlan will play "In Your Shoes" inspired by the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl who defended her right to an education and survived gun wounds suffered from the Taliban.
On a lighter note, you may remember the sisters performed the Academy Award nominated The LEGO Movie's "Everything is Awesome!!!" with The Lonely Island. The inspirational lyrics: "Everything is cool when you're part of a team. Everything is awesome when we're living our dream" certainly resonate with the 24 nations competing in front of 45,000 cheering fans. In just one month, only one will win the most coveted gold trophy, an Oscar, erm, the Women's World Cup.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
“Big Red” automatically qualified as the host nation for 2015, but they're regulars, making it to every Women's World Cup since 1995 (they did not qualify in 1991). Their best result came in 2003, when they finished in fourth place. And that was also the only time Canada have ever made it out of the group stage at a World Cup. In the last edition in 2011, they finished dead last in their group with only one goal.
The 2011 disappointment prompted the hiring of John Herdman as coach in late 2011 and the Englishman has completely transformed the Canadian women's team. With the help of assistant coach and ex-USWNT boss Tom Sermanni, Herdman has injected new spirit into the group which resulted in a bronze-medal finish at the 2012 London Olympics and hero status back home in Canada.
Canada's run in that Olympic tournament fell just short in a memorable semifinal that USWNT fans will never forget. The two nations clashed in an epic match that featured a Christine Sinclair hat trick and a late Alex Morgan goal in extratime to clinch a 4-3 US win at Old Trafford.
Ranked No. 8 in the world heading into the 2015 tournament, Herdman’s team has something to prove. The recently released documentary "RISE" captures Canada's emergence as a dark-horse contender in 2015.
Herdman's squad is a mix of youth and experience, including three players under the age of 20 and nine in their 30s. Known for their physically dominant and aggressive style, the Canadians can throw possession and rhythm-oriented teams off their game. They don't have a deep bench, which means a lot will rest on the shoulders of these players:
One of Canada’s most famous athletes, and the country's darling, Sinclair was the flag bearer in the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony and even found herself on a commemorative stamp. Back in 2013, she and US forward Abby Wambach battled head-to-head in pursuit of Mia Hamm's 158 goal-scoring record. Sinclair, with 223 appearances, finds herself in second place all-time among active players with 153 goals, trailing Abby Wambach by 25.
Making her fourth World Cup appearance, Sinclair is the heart and soul of the team: the captain and powerful, tenacious goalscorer who gets the job done when it matters most.
Sophie Schmidt, MF – Led the team in goals last year after transitioning into a more attacking-midfielder role. She not only serves well, she can finish, too. Check out her game-winning goal from the send-off match against No.6-ranked England.
Melissa Tancredi, FW – A fierce striker who loves to get stuck in, she will be a key target for her team (and Schmidt's passes) in the final third.
Kadeisha Buchanan, DF – At only 19, Buchanan will be making her first Women's World Cup appearance. The West Virginia University product may be young, but you would never know it based on her composure at center back.
Erin McLeod, GK – Although Canada has three goalkeepers all vying for minutes and all capable of holding down the posts, McCleod has earned the starting spot for now. She has competed in three WWCs and started in two.
As the longest serving player in Canadian soccer history, goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc will retire after the tournament. The player known as "KK" made her international debut in 1998 and has earned 110 caps for the senior team.
Canada will compete in Group A with matches against China on June 6 (6 pm ET on CTV), New Zealand on June 11 (9 pm ET on CTV) and Netherlands on June 15 (7:30 pm ET on CTV).
There are a few players from the Portland Thorns and Houston Dash on the World Cup roster, namely Kaylyn Kyle, Sinclair and Rhian Wilkinson (Portland) along with Erin McCleod, Allysha Chapman and Lauren Sesselmann (Houston).
The six are important members of the multi-talented Canadian team. Here's proof below in the form of an emotional rendition of Celine Dion's "The Power of Love".
With optimism around the team at an all-time high, the host cities are getting behind the Canadian women:
Edmonton is ready! This is the giant mural that awaits #canWNT when they arrive at the airport pic.twitter.com/gGI0OR24Zh
— Sheri Forde (@SheriTSN) June 3, 2015
That's a sample of the kind hearts and friendly nature that Canadians are renowned for around the world. And the national team is no exception. Just this week the CanWNT welcomed their opening match foes on their arrival to the Twitterverse like only Canadians could:
Welcome aboard @CFA! We’ll see you on the pitch Saturday! #GameOn @FIFAWWC #Canada2015
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) June 3, 2015
For more of those good vibes, here are the hashtags and handles you need to follow the CanWNT on Twitter during this World Cup: #CanadaRED, #canWNT, #Canada2015, @CanadaSoccerEN and @CanadaSoccerFR in French.
We've arrived Edmonton!!!! pic.twitter.com/HxJv24kSsB
— Kaylyn Kyle (@KaylynKyle) June 3, 2015
Women's World Cup: How to watch and follow the 2015 tournament
SPECIAL TO MLSSOCCER.COM
Fox Sports Network plans to provide the most comprehensive multiplatform coverage of the Women's World Cup. It will televise all 52 matches between June 6 and July 5 between its three main channels. Never before has a broadcast network aired 16 World Cup matches - male or female - but FOX made the unprecedented commitment to do so. Of the 16, five will be in prime time and include one semifinal, the third place match and the final. FOX Sports 1 will show 29 matches while FOX Sports 2 will carry the remaining seven. There will be over 200 hours of Women's World Cup coverage this summer, averaging six to seven hours of content a day over the course of the tournament. Every match will be available digitally on FOX Sports GO app and online at www.FOXSportsGo.com.
With a robust WWC social media lineup, any avid fan can stay on top of the latest news. Follow Canada at @CanadaSoccerEN, USA at @ussoccer_wnt and the official tournament at @FIFAWWC. Get involved in global conversations with several hashtags - #FIFAWWC and #WWC2015.
FIFA has encouraged women and girls to achieve their goals through #LiveYourDreams while USWNT has run a similar campaign with #SheBelieves. Both have extensive social media presence with interaction from the teams and players.
To see how people are watching and following the tournament around the world, check out #myFIFAWWC. For the first time at a FIFA competition, LED advertising boards will broadcast those messages in-stadium. The goal is to make the world a little bit smaller through a Global Stadium.
Dedicated supporters group, the American Outlaws will travel to cheer on the USA for at least the group matches with Australia, Sweden and Nigeria. Their goal is to unite and strengthen the United States fan base through meetups the night before the match, pregame preparation and wild support during the full 90.
Women's World Cup 2015 has Fan Zones in all six host cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton. The largest of them, Vancouver invested $1.2 million into 2.7 acres for the celebration. It will include two large screens, concessions, live music and entertainment, sports demonstrations, and pavilions for the tournament sponsors and FIFA. All are open to the public and have designated days of events but limited capacity.
Stateside, several MLS teams will host watch parties including Sporting KC at Sporting Park and Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. As the tournament nears, more venues and cities will organize watch parties.
Four days until the biggest and longest Women's World Cup kicks off in Edmonton between host nation and China. When the U.S. Women's National Team opens up play on June 8 against Australia, the two-time champions begin the pursuit of becoming the only team to win three titles.
The U.S. also happens to be the only team to reach the semifinal of all six Women's World Cup editions - three finals (two titles and one runner-up) and three third places finishes. The Red, White and Blue are poised as favorites, if they can overcome injury.
USA's match Group D Schedule
United States will need to play seven matches to get to the championship - that includes the three group (Australia, Sweden and Nigeria), the Round of 16, quarterfinal, semifinal and final. But it will be no easy task. If it finishes second in Group D, it will travel across the country to Moncton, where it will likely take on Brazil and potentially meet Japan in the quarterfinal. The only time the team did not finish first in the group was at WWC 2011 behind fellow Group D member Sweden.
Head Coach Jill Ellis' Chosen 23
Jill Ellis has a deep and well-experienced team, as it averages 103 caps per player. Fifteen have already made at least one other World Cup squad.
Keep an eye on these World Cup rookies - check out the 2015 #USWNT Roster Card videos:
Sydney Leroux - powerful and tenacious forward, averaging the most goals in fewest minutes of any player in USWNT history.
Morgan Brian - youngest player on the team, at 22, controls the central midfield with such composure and sophistication.
Julie Johnston - tough defender with a dominating presence in the air and on the ground and has a sixth sense in positioning, scoring three consecutive goals while holding down the back line.
Christen Press - effective as a midfielder and forward, the fast and versatile striker has the ability to finish anywhere on the field.
- United States creates opportunities but needs to finish more accurately and consistently, and put their chances away earlier.
- Starting goalkeeper Hope Solo made 23 saves and only let in two goals in the last eight matches.
- The team is one of the strongest defensively but needs to improve upon set-plays, as it has been known to get caught off guard in its own box.
- USA's success heavily rides on the appearance and minutes of Alex Morgan, who has not played in 59 days due to injury. If she comes back in full-health, the team will be a serious force to reckon with.
- Despite Morgan being a question mark, the team has many strong options up top - with Abby Wambach, Press, Leroux and Amy Rodriguez ready and able to have immediate impact.
Social Media Easter Egg
For the tournament, Twitter Sports reintroduced #hashflags after making their debut at last year's World Cup. Hashflags are flag emoticons related to a country's hashtag. Just type in a three letter hashtag and it will show the country's flag in the iconic Canadian maple leaf, for instance #CAN and #USA. USWNT's #SheBelieves campaign got a customized one too.
Dwyer and Leroux (at 25:33)
Dom Dwyer played the Newlyweds Game on ExtraTime with Sydney Leroux by his side. Let's see if Dwyer follows through on the bet that if the United States win the World Cup, he will change his last name to Leroux.
What Makes Us
espnW filmed What Makes Us original shorts featuring American standouts Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe. They provided insight into their upbringing and how that shaped their personalities and personal growth in "Syd" and "Pinoe."
USWNT players on Garbage Talk
The United States can kick it on the soccer field but they could not make it sting like a bee. Host of Garbage Talk Katie Nolan asked Leroux, Alex Morgan and Kelley O'Hara to trash talk Australia before the team's first match.
Amp Up for World Cup
To help them get hyped up for the big games, midfielder Morgan Brian and defender Megan Klingenberg elicit help from fans to create a #WCPlaylist. Suggest songs on social media or take a listen on Spotify.
ICYMI: USWNT on Simpsons
You know you made it when you get Simsonized. Fox teamed up with the Simpsons to create Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach and Christen Press characters that made their debut in May.