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U.S. Women Tie China, 0-0, in Second Match of Four Nations Tournament in China


SHENZHEN, China (Feb. 1, 2004) - The U.S. Women's National Team put together a disciplined and tactically sound performance in a well-played 0-0 draw on Sunday afternoon with host China on the second match day of the 2004 Four Nations Tournament.

A win over Canada on Tuesday in the USA's final match will likely clinch the tournament title, provided China does not defeat Sweden by a large number of goals. The USA is in first place after two match days, tied with China at four points each, but ahead on goal difference which is the first tiebreaker. The USA is at plus-3 while China is at plus-1.

It was a deserved draw for both teams, as each side took seven total shots and played some high-level possession soccer, but struggled to create dangerous chances against the equally organized back lines. The Chinese team was bolstered by loud, chanting fans, who beat drums during the entire match and roared every time China got near the U.S net.

"To play China in China and get a point is a good result for us," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "One of the most demanding aspects of this tournament is to play less than 48 after your last game. We play a very high energy, attacking style, and when you are not allowed to fully recover, it's difficult for an American team to play with that same energy two games in a row."

Both teams started the same lineup as during their firsts wins of the tournament, and once again U.S. head coach April Heinrichs used all of her allowable substitutes.

The U.S. held China without a shot until the 34th minute, but when it came, it was dangerous. Jin Xiao Mei sent a well-placed cross in from the right wing and Zhang Ying got a solid head on the ball, but U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry scooped it up with a collapse dive at the right post.

The USA's two flank midfielders in the 4-5-1 formation, Kristine Lilly and Shannon MacMillan, accounted for most of the danger in the first half, taking all five of the USA's shots before the break.

In the 16th minute, Lilly took off on long dribbling run into the left side of penalty box, but didn't get enough on her shot and it rolled to Chinese goalkeeper Xiao Zhen. In the 43rd minute, Lilly got loose again down the left side and hit a spinning cross that MacMillan did well to volley first time, but it skipped across the face of the goal and out of bounds.

In final minute of first half, right back Christie Pearce got behind defense on right side, but her cross on the ground couldn't find a U.S. attacker and it rolled through the penalty area before being cleared.

The USA had a scare early in the match when Shannon Boxx cracked heads with a Chinese defender in the 7th minute while aggressively winning a head ball and went down in a heap. She left the field but returned after two minutes with nothing more than a knot above her right eye and put in an excellent day's work of ball winning for the U.S. team.

Both teams played low-pressure defense throughout the match, partly due to similar 4-5-1 formations, but also in respect of the other's technical ability. Still, China had its usual excellent possession in the midfield, which was countered by the patience of the Americans on defense who also did well to dispossess the Chinese.

"While we won and we were pleased about the Sweden game, we didn't feel like we defended particularly well or were that organized," said Heinrichs of her team's 3-0 win in its first game of the tournament. "Our improvement in just one game on the defending aspect of our system was remarkable, so I'm really pleased for our players that we defended better today."

China found a bit of a better rhythm after the 60th minute and created some chances. Ren Liping drove into the penalty area on a dangerous dribble, but shot weakly at Scurry.

Later in the half, Qu Feifei hit a rocket from 20 yards out that brought the fans out of their seats, but Scurry easily handled the knuckling shot. China put six of its seven shots on frame, but none really troubled Scurry as she picked up her second shutout of the tournament.

"Our spacing was very good and we neutralized them well," said Scurry. "They got some good chances when they started launching some balls, but that's hard for any defense. Our defense kept them pretty much under control the whole game."

The USA took just two shots in the second half, neither dangerous, as both teams worked hard to find space in their attacking third, but neither side could break through.

"I'm a big believer that a 0-0 game can be a great game," said Heinrichs. "We had two teams experimenting (with new players), knowing the importance of not giving away one goal and two teams playing in the month of January after coming off a break. It's the pre-season for us and it's very difficult to score goals in the early part of the year."

The USA had some tense moments at the end of the match as in the 86th minute Zhang Ying popped free for a moment behind the U.S. defense, but Joy Fawcett recovered to poke the ball away. China had its best chance to win the game just one minute later as Zhang Ying crossed to Ji Ting at the far post. She headed the ball on frame, but Scurry ran it down and smothered it at the right post.

The referee added four minutes of stoppage time, during which China had the USA on its a heels a bit, but the game ended without incident.

"Late in the game, China had a couple of chances were we got a little exposed at the back," said Heinrichs. "But Joy (Fawcett) stepped up and won some one-on-one confrontations, provided the leadership at the back and provided cover for all her teammates. You can make case that Joy was our most valuable player today."

In the second match of the day, Sweden defeated Canada, 3-1, as captain Malin Mostrom and star forward Victoria Svensson both scored on well-struck shots from outside the penalty area in the first half. Therese Sjogran added the third goal on a breakaway in the second half. Canadian Christine Sinclair pulled one back for her side on a miscue by Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who dropped a ball at Sinclair's feet, but she had previously made three excellent saves to keep Canada off the board.

U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up:       USA vs. China
Competition:  2004 Four Nations Tournament
Venue:           Shenzhen Stadium; Shenzhen, China
Date:              Feb. 1, 2004; Kickoff - 2:15 p.m. Local (1:15 a.m. ET)
Attendance:   5,000
Weather:        Warm, overcast, breezy - 64 degrees

Scoring Summary:
              1     2     F
USA     0     0     0
CHN     0     0     0

Lineups:
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 15-Kate Markgraf, 14-Joy Fawcett, 4-Cat Reddick, 3-Christie Rampone (21-Heather Mitts, 57); 7-Shannon Boxx (26-Leslie Osborne, 77), 11-Julie Foudy, 25-Lindsay Tarpley (19-Angela Hucles, 68), 13-Kristine Lilly, 8-Shannon MacMillan (27-Heather O'Reilly, 64); 20-Abby Wambach (5-Tiffany Roberts, 55).
Subs not used: 2-Kylie Bivens, 18-Siri Mullinix, 23-Lori Chalupny, 29-Amy LePeilbet.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs

CHN:  22-Xiao Zhen; 2-Jin Xiao Mei, 3-Li Jie, 5-Fan Yunjie, 15-Ren Liping; 13-Liu Hua Na (8-Bi Yan, 60), 12-Qu Feifei, 18-Zhang Ying; 7-Zhang Ouying (24-Ji Ting, 60), 10-Teng Wei, 11-Bai Lili (9-Han Duan, 70).
Subs not used: 6-Wang Kun, 16-Liu Ya Li, 19-Duan Fang Fang, 20-Wang Liping, 21-Zhong Jinyu, 23-Ning Zhen Yun.
Head Coach: Zhang Haitao

Statistical Summary:     
                      USA / CHN
Shots:                 7 / 7
Shots on Goal:   4 / 6
Saves:                 6 / 4
Corner Kicks:     4 / 1
Fouls:                  5 / 13
Offside:                4 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
CHN - Ren Liping (Caution) 68th minute.
CHN - Fan Yunjie (Caution) 70.

Officials:
Referee: Jenny Palmqvist (Sweden)
Referee Asst.: Liu Hongjuan (China) 
Referee Asst.: Fu Hongjue (China) 
4th Official: Jillian Proctor (Canada) 

Chevrolet Woman of the Match: Joy Fawcett

FOUR NATIONS STANDINGS
Team    W   L    T   PTS    GF   GA    GD
USA       1    0    1      4        3        0     +3
CHN       1    0    1      4        2        1     +1
SWE      1    1    0      3        3        4      -1
CAN       0    2    0      0        2        5      -3

FOUR NATIONS RESULTS & GAME SCHEDULE
Friday, Jan. 30
China 2, Canada 1
USA 3, Sweden 0    

Sunday, Feb. 1
China 0, USA 0
Sweden 3, Canada 1

Tuesday, Feb. 3
USA vs. Canada       2:15 p.m. local (1:15 a.m. ET)
China vs. Sweden     4:30 p.m. local (3:30 a.m. ET)

FOUR NATIONS TOP SCORERS
Player (Team)                           Goals
Lindsay Tarpley (USA)                 2
Shannon Boxx (USA)                   1
Teng Wei (CHN)                           1
Bai Li Li (CHN)                             1
Veronique Maranda (CAN)         1
Christine Sinclair (CAN)              1
Malin Mostrom
(SWE)                 1
Victoria Svensson
(SWE)           1
Therese Sjogran (SWE)              1

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