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U.S. WNT Prepares to Face China in Four Nations Finale with Title On the Line

USA AND CHINA MEET WITH FOUR NATIONS TITLE ON THE LINE: The U.S. Women’s National Team will meet host China on Sunday, January 22 (4 p.m. local time / 3 a.m. ET) in the final match of the 2006 Four Nations Tournament with the championship on the line. A victory for either team will give them the title. A tie will likely give China the championship, unless France defeats Norway by three or more goals in the third and final match for both teams. China and the USA both have four points and a plus-two goal difference after two matches, meaning a draw between the two teams on Sunday could give China the title based on more goals scored. With the France-Norway match being played before USA-China, the Steel Roses (as they have been dubbed by their media) will know if a tie will be good enough to give them the championship. The U.S. women, like always, will be going all out for the win. The U.S. team went through a very light, yet chilly, training on Saturday, January 21, as the Guangzhou heat wave is definitely over. The January temperatures have characteristically dipped down into the 50s. Facing China in China is one of the toughest “away” matches in international women’s soccer and the tradition of big games between these two teams promises to make this meeting even more electric. The temperature at kickoff will not only be cold, but the home crowd, which sends up a roar every time their team crosses midfield on an attack (that somehow sounds 10 times as loud as the number of fans actually in the stands), will make conditions even more difficult.

2006 Four Nations Tournament
Guangdong Olympic Stadium, Guangzhou, China
2006 Four Nations Tournament Standings
Team W L T Pts GF GA GD
CHN 1 0 1 4 4 2 +2
USA 1 0 1 4 3 1 +2
FRA 0 0 2 2 1 1 0
NOR 0 2 0 0 2 6 -4

Jan. 18
USA 3, Norway 1
China 1, France 1

Jan. 20
USA 0, France 0
China 3, Norway 1

Jan. 22
France vs. Norway 1:30 p.m. local / 12:30 a.m. ET
USA vs. China 4 p.m. local / 3 a.m. ET

USA-CHINA PREVIEW: The USA’s last meeting with China came on Aug. 1, 2004, in the final match before leaving for the 2004 Olympics. The USA’s 3-1 victory sent them to Greece on a high note and moved the series to 14-8-10 in favor of the American women. No team has tied the USA more than the Chinese as the 10 ties are five more than the next closest country (Sweden has tied U.S. five times). The USA’s record against China in China is 2-3-5 all-time. The USA’s last win against China in China came in 2003, a 2-0 win in Guangzhou at Tianhe Stadium, site of the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final that the USA won, 2-1, over Norway. On Sunday in the sparkling modern Guangdong Olympic Stadium, both teams will likely be fighting heavy legs as each will be playing its third big-time international match in just five days, and U.S. head coach Greg Ryan may go to his bench a bit earlier than in the two previous Four Nations matches. Both teams have achieved similar results in the tournament so far with each team defeating Norway, 3-1, and drawing France, although the Chinese managed a goal (getting a late equalizer in the 90th minute) while the U.S. played France to a scoreless draw. China’s style is well known to the USA. The Chinese, who have been training together for a month in Guangzhou, are one of the most technical teams in the world and their inter-passing and ability to navigate tight spaces always make for a long day of running for any opponent. China’s star in this tournament has been forward Han Duan, a speedy and crafty striker who has scored in both of her team’s games so far. While Chinese legend Sun Wen has not played in this tournament as she is just a month into her comeback after two years away from the game, the Steel Roses are well stocked with talented midfielders, including Bai Li Li and Pan Li Na. Chinese goalkeeper Han Wen Xia, is tall, has excellent technique, is composed and experienced, while team captain Li Jie is one of the best central defenders in the world. This Four Nations match will mark the seventh time the USA and China have met with some sort of medal or trophy on the line with the USA coming home with the hardware on four of those occasions. No team has scored more than two goals in any of those games. Following is a look at the previous six USA-China meetings with a trophy on the line.

July 17, 1993 – Hamilton, Ontario (USA 1, China 2)
A goal by Julie Foudy is not enough as the USA falls in the tournament final.

June 17, 1995 – Gavle, Sweden (USA 2, China 0)
They had hoped to play for the championship, but the USA puts in a quality performance in the third-place match of the 1995 FIFA Women’s Word Cup, getting goals from Mia Hamm and Tisha Venturini to take the bronze.

Aug 1, 1996 – Athens, Georgia (USA 2, China 1)
The Americans take the first-ever Olympic gold medal for women’s soccer, getting a first-half goal from Shannon MacMillan and a dramatic late winner from Tiffeny Milbrett.

March 20, 1999 – Loulè, Portugal (USA 1, China 2)
The U.S. falls in the championship game of the Algarve Cup. Tiffeny Milbrett scores the U.S. goal, but Brandi Chastain misses a penalty kick. She would not miss four months later.

July 10, 1999 – Pasadena, Calif. (USA 0, China 0 – USA wins 5-4 in penalty kicks)
The USA wins the historic 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final in dramatic penalty kicks as Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm and, famously, Brandi Chastain convert for the USA. The crowd of 90,125 was, and still is, the largest to ever attend a women’s sporting event.

March 20, 2003 -- Loulè, Portugal (USA 2, China 0)
In the championship game of the 2003 Algarve Cup, Mia Hamm and Shannon MacMillan score and assist on each others’ goals to give the USA the first of what is now three consecutive Algarve Cup titles.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster – Four Nations Tournament -- Guangzhou, China
GOALKEEPERS (2): 28-Jenni Branam, 18-Hope Solo; DEFENDERS (6): 17-Lori Chalupny, 23-Tina Frimpong, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 4-Stephanie Lopez, 2-Heather Mitts, 3-Christie Rampone; MIDFIELDERS (8): 7-Shannon Boxx, 8-Carli Lloyd, 13-Kristine Lilly, 21-Marci Miller, 12-Leslie Osborne, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 10-Aly Wagner, 11-Angie Woznuk; FORWARDS (4): 9-Heather O’Reilly, 27-India Trotter, 20-Abby Wambach, 19-Christie Welsh.

China Women’s National Team Roster -- Four Nations Tournament -- Guangzhou, China
1-Han Wen Xia, 2-Wang Kun, 3-Li Jie, 4-Sun Yong Xia, 6-Shi Meng Yu, 7-Bi Yan, 8-Zhang Ying, 9-Han Duan, 11-Bai Li Li, 12-Qu Fei Fei, 13-Zhao Xioa Mei, 14-Jin Xiao Mei, 16-Liu Ya Li, 17-Pan Li Na, 18-Xi Ding Ying, 19-Ma Xioa Xu, 20-Liu Hua Na, 23-Guo Yue, 26-Yuan Fan, 28-Zhang Yan Ru.

The USA has only three players on its roster who have scored against China in their careers, midfielders Aly Wagner and Kristine Lilly and forward Abby Wambach. Lilly scored the first of her 105 career goals against China on Aug. 13, 1987, and has scored two since, once in 1991 and again in 1998. Wambach and Wagner both scored in the most recent meeting, the USA’s 3-1 victory in East Hartford, Conn., in the final match before the Americans left for Greece and the 2004 Olympics.

Quote of the Day:
Soft-spoken U.S. defender Lori Chalupny, the last person you would ever think would get in a bar fight (and in fact has never been in a bar fight) after getting kicked in the face and headed in the head in the USA’s 0-0 tie with France.

“I feel like I was just in a bar fight.”