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U.S. To Meet China For The Third Staight Year For Four Nations Tournament Title


U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from Guangzhou, China
Saturday, January 19, 2008

IT’S USA-CHINA, AGAIN, FOR THE FOUR NATIONS TITLE: For the third year in a row, the USA and China will meet in the final match of the Four Nations at the Guangdong Olympic Center Stadium with the championship on the line. The U.S. has won this match the past two years, both by 2-0 scores. The USA also won the final game of the tournament over China in 2002 by a final score of 2-0. Amazingly, the last time China won the tournament-deciding game over the USA it was also by a 2-0 score, that coming in 2003. However, only one of the four goals the USA has scored in the last two Four Nations matches against China was scored by a player on this year’s roster, that coming from Lori Chalupny a year ago. Kristine Lilly scored both goals in 2006 and Natasha Kai combined her goal to Chalupny’s in 2007. The match will be broadcast to all of China on CCTV 5 and there will likely be good crowd in the stadium with the match taking place on a Sunday afternoon. The game also carries some interesting story lines, as it will be U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage’s first match as head coach of the USA against China, the team for which she served as an assistant in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. It will also the first match against the USA for China’s new head coach, Elisabeth Loisel, although she faced the United States on several occasions during her time coaching France . The USA-China match kicks off at 3:30 p.m. local / 2:30 a.m. ET following the completion of the Canada-Finland game which starts at 1 p.m. local.

WIN OR DRAW FOR TITLE: The USA’s two quality results in the first two matches have put the team in good position heading into the final match against China. With six points from their two wins, a win or a draw against China will give the Americans the tournament title. Only a China victory would give the hosts the championship. While the USA carries a plus-7, well ahead of China’s plus-2, goal difference will play no role in determining the outcome of this competition, as a point for a tie or three for a win would put the USA clear of China. The Chinese are coming off a scoreless second half in their first match against Finland and a scoreless 90 minutes against Canada, so they will surely be anxious to get on the scoreboard early against the USA, especially needing a win to take the trophy.

2008 Four Nations Tournament Standings
Team

W

L

T

Pts.

GF

GA

GD

USA

2

0

0

6

8

1

+7

CHN

1

0

1

4

2

0

+2

CAN

0

1

1

1

0

4

-4

FIN

0

2

0

0

1

6

-5


Jan. 16
USA 4, Canada 0
China 2, Finland 0

Jan. 18
China 0, Canada 0
USA 4, Finland 1

January 20
Canada vs. Finland 1:00 p.m. local / Midnight ET
USA vs. China 3:30 p.m. local / 2:30 a.m. ET

United States Women’s National Team Roster
2008 Four Nations Tournament
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), 18-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.);
DEFENDERS (6): 14-Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), 6-Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), 26-Ali Krieger (Dumfries, Va.), 3-Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.), 27-Becky Sauerbrunn (St. Louis, Mo.), 4-Cat Whitehill (Birmingham, Ala.);
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 17-Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), 25-Tina DiMartino (Massapequa Park, N.Y.), 16-Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), 11-Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), 12-Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis.), 10-Angie Woznuk (El Cajon, Calif.);
FORWARDS (5): 8-Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), 9-Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), 19-Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), 20-Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).

China Women’s National Team Roster
2008 Four Nations Tournament
1-Zhang Yanru, 2-Yuan Fan, 3-Li Jie, 4-Wang Kun, 5-Jiang Ying, 6-Zhang Ying, 7-Bi Yan, 8-Zhang Na, 9-Han Duan, 10-Zi Jingjing, 11-Xie Caixia, 12-Qu Feifei, 14-Guo Yue, 15-Zhou Gaoping, 16-Liu Yali, 17-Zhang Cheng, 18-Weng Xiaojie, 20-Zhang Tong, 21-Song Xiaoli, 22-Yu Wimin.

U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage

On the Four Nations Tournament so far:
“The results have been great. Eight goals in two games is fantastic with a new team. But more so, I am satisfied with the way we have defended for part of the games and there are interesting things that have gone on with the attack. We are not there yet, but we have started to change the attacking style a little bit and I am happy with the way they have responded to the new playing style.”

On the Chinese team:
“I think they have improved since we left. They are keeping possession a little bit better and I was happy to see that Liu Yali and Li Jie are still good in the air. When we play against China, we have to be aware of those two players in the air. I think the coach, Elisabeth (Loisel), has done a great job so far.”

On the match against China:
“I’ve coached these players and I know them very well. I have some favorites, for example Li Jie in the back, Liu Yali on the left wing, but also this technical, wonderful player Xie Caixia on the right wing and of course Han Duan, who scored a bunch of goals before the World Cup. We know that Bi Yan has a great shot, so there are certain things we will be aware of, but first and foremost we will concentrate on the way we play. Defending will be pretty much the same regardless of team we are playing against, but we will tweak the attack a little bit. We will talk about China of course, but we will talk more so about the USA to get a great performance tomorrow.”

U.S. forward Abby Wambach:

On the match against China:
“This will be interesting because both teams have new head coaches…I know that China has always put a great team on the field to perform against any opponent. Having just hosted the Women’s World Cup and now hosting the Olympics in Beijing, I am sure they are hoping to do better than they did in the World Cup, just like us. So it will be a great match, a hard fought match.”

On what she is expecting against China:
“We’ve been focusing so much on ourselves that we haven’t had much time to focus on China, but I know our coaching staff has watched both of China’s games. They’ve gotten so good at crossing the ball and their flank play is getting very good. They are not just a technical team anymore, they are expanding their horizons and becoming more of a powerful team.”

On having yet to score a goal in the tournament:
“This is the beginning of a change, a new coach, and a lot of younger players are here, so it’s not about personal accomplishment, it’s about getting the team to a level where we think and feel we can win a world championship…I think Lindsay Tarpley and Amy Rodriguez have done very well scoring the goals for us. So, for me, of course, you always want to do your very best, and for me that’s scoring goals. So do I want to pick up my own personal performance? Yes. However, the ultimate thing for me is winning games and we’ve done that so far so I’m happy.”

FOUR DEBUTS: Just two games into her U.S. Women’s National Team coaching career and Pia Sundhage has already given four players their first caps. Defender Ali Krieger has played all 180 minutes in the tournament so far, defender Tobin Heath played 90 minutes against Finland, defender Becky Sauberbrunn played 90 minutes against Canada and Tina DiMartino came off the bench against Finland, getting an assist on the third goal. So far, Sundhage has looked at 36 players over two training camps and this tournament and will be looking at more over the next two months before the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in April.

CAT ON THE IR: The U.S. team has several players feeling a bit under the weather, not an uncommon occurrence on trips to China, but it should not keep anyone off the field tomorrow. Defender Cat Whitehill, however, has a different ailment, having sprained an ankle during training before the tournament. She hasn’t trained on the field since, focusing on rehab for the joint and working out in the gym. Due to the injury, Whitehill is the only player on the 20-player roster yet to see action in the tournament.

USA vs. CHINA: The last time these two teams met, Pia Sundhage was on the other bench, as an assistant coach for China when the teams played in Cleveland on June 16, 2007, in a warm-up game before the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. It was actually the third meeting of 2007 between the USA and China, who had already clashed in final game of the Four Nations Tournament in China on Jan. 30, 2007 and then just five weeks later on March 7, 2007 in the opening game of the Algarve Cup in Portugal. The USA won both contests by scores of 2-0 and 2-1, respectively, and for the most part were in control of the all three matches. But in the match in Cleveland, the U.S. needed two second half goals from Abby Wambach, including one in the 88th minute to fend off a much-improved China. In last year’s Four Nations Tournament, the USA was without Wambach, Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone and Aly Wagner. This year, Wambach and Rampone are on the roster, adding some leadership to a group of young veterans and rookies who have performed well over the two games so far. China is still transitioning to its fourth coach in just over a year, so the team is no doubt still adjusting to Elizabeth Loisel who took over after Marika Domanski Lyfors left after the Women’s World Cup. The three wins last year moved the USA’s record against China to 19-8-11 all-time. China has not defeated the USA since 2003, a 2-0 win in Wuhan during the Four Nations Tournament in a match attended by 40,000 fans. China’s technical style always challenges the USA, causing the Americans to work even harder and smarter defensively to get the ball back. With the USA’s increased focus on keeping the ball under Sundhage, the Americans will try create quality chances through their ball possession, tactics that have produced eight goals over two games so far at this tournament. Of course, the USA and China are no strangers to big matches, having compiled a storied history over the years while meeting in numerous important matches – most notably the 1996 Olympic gold medal game and 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.

Stat of Note
So far in the tournament, the U.S. team has scored eight goals, five more goals than the other three teams combined. China has two goals, Finland has one and Canada has yet to score.
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