Note: Video produced before the match on June 7 in Utah. Some numbers may now be different.
USA vs. CHINA PR: LAST TIME OUT
Before Thursday's match, the most recent meetings came in December of 2015 in what were the final two games on the post-World Cup Victory Tour. The previous meeting before those December 2015 friendlies was the 1-0 victory in the quarterfinal of the 2015 Women’s World Cup. That was the fourth meeting between the USA and China in a World Cup.
The last World Cup match between the USA and China before the quarterfinal meeting in 2015 was at the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final in Pasadena, California, which culminated with the USA winning its second World Cup following the shootout and Brandi Chastain’s famous penalty to give the USA a 5-4 edge.
TICKETS BOOKED FOR FRANCE
Alongside Japan, Australia, South Korea and Thailand, China PR has qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup out of the Asian Football Confederation.
China qualified by winning its group at the 2018 AFC Asian Women’s Cup. In the semifinal, China lost to Japan, 3-1, but defeated Thailand, 3-1, in the Third-Place match. Li Ying scored China’s lone goal against Japan in the semifinal via a 90th minute penalty kick. Against Thailand, China scored its three goals in an 11-minute span early in the second half, getting goals from Li Ying, Wang Shanshan and Song Duan.
Li Ying scored seven goals in five games at World Cup qualifying to lead the tournament. China won all three of its group play matches to top Group A and clinch the automatic berth to France that came with that. China opened with a 4-0 win against Thailand on goals from Song Duan (2), Wang Shuan and Li Ying, all in the first half. China then beat the Philippines 3-0 on goals from Li Ying (2) and Ma Jun, and finished with an 8-1 thrashing of host Jordan on hat trick from Wang Shuang, an own goal, one score from Song Duan, two from Li Ying and one from Tang Jiali.
NEW MAN ON THE BENCH
China has gone through two head coaches since the last meeting with the USA. Frenchmen Bruno Bini, who had excellent success for many years with his home country from 2007-2013, leading the team to fourth places finishes at the 2011 Women’s World Cup and 2012 Olympics, was hired in September of 2015 to replace Hao Wei, who led China to a quarterfinal berth in the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Bini, who was in charge during the two meetings vs. the USA in December of 2015, was replaced by Icelandic head coach Sigurdur Ragnar Eyjolfsson in November of 2017.
On May 23, 2018, Eyjolfsson, who qualified China for the upcoming Women’s World Cup, was replaced by 54-year-old Jia Xiuquan, who earned 55 caps for China.
Jia played professionally in Serbia, Malaysia and Japan and has overseen various age-grade National Teams, as well as Henan Jianye and Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League, but he has never previously worked in the women’s game.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
In soccer, a team nickname can be as recognizable as a jersey or the crest a player wears. Mexico is “El Tri,” while Argentina is known as “La Albiceleste.” England’s Women’s Team is better known as the “Lionesses,” and France is “Les Bleus.”
However, the China Women’s National Team owns one of the best team nicknames in the world. Known as the “Steel Roses,” the name reflects a combination of beauty with power; strength with femininity, and it is a perfect reflection of the powerful women taking the field to represent their nation.