WWC Quarter Final: United States of America

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The United States kicked off the World Cup considered one of the main threats to take out the title. A somewhat unconvincing performance so far would have even the most confident Americans nervously tugging at the collars. Can they win it all, or will they spectacularly fall?

The story so far

The USA topped Group D albeit without justifying the comments of many commentators that pegged them as the pre-tournament favourite. Despite having a myriad of attacking options the Americans lacked penetration in the final third. However a 3-1 victory over Australia, a 0-0 with Sweden and 1-0 win over Nigeria was enough to see them move on to a Round 16 clash with Columbia.

The Round of 16 clash had everything you want in a football game; skill, strong defending, penalties, send-offs, goals and an incredible miss. The US brushed passed the gallant South Americans 2-0 after the Columbians were reduced to ten players following the send-off of goal keeper Catalina Perez for bringing down Alex Morgan in the box.

In a moment of horror for the red, white and blue superstar striker Abby Wombach side footed the subsequent dot shot past replacement ‘keeper Stefany Castano’s right post. However from that point on the gutsy Columbians didn’t look like they had a chance at progression despite showing throughout the match they have the ability to play sharp, exciting and attractive football. The Americans sealed their spot in the quarters with goals to Morgan and Carli Lloyd booking their place in a quarter final match-up against China.

They’ll beat China because…

Because they’re America and their quality is undeniable. The US have ability all over the park and their backline has thus far has been almost infallible, conceding just the one goal against the Matildas. Alex Morgan was a shining light for the Americans in attack and if she can combine well with the vastly experience Wambach they could be the difference.

The other factor working to their advantage is the lack of composure and clinical finishing shown by the Chinese throughout the tournament so far.

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The Chinese attack squandered far too many chances in their victory over Cameroon in the Round of 16 and the Americans won’t give them as many opportunities as the Africans did, if they can’t finish it will make life a lot easier for Team USA.

They’ll be knocked-out by China because…

Because while the Chinese are wasting chances, they’re still creating a lot. The Steel Roses are going to find it much harder against the strong US defence led by Julie Johnston and custodian Hope Solo but the skill and tactics implemented by the Chinese so far in the tournament have shown they’re more than capable of stealing a victory against the heavily favoured Amercians.

There is also a lot of pressure on the USA to win the tournament and if they can’t break China early they may well get frustrated, just like in the first half against Australia. If the Chinese can stay in the match there is always a chance that they can steal it.

Will they win the World Cup?

Yes. Anything less will be considered a failure for Jill Ellis who knows her objective is to break their World Cup drought.

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If they want to do that they will need their superstars, such as Sydney Leroux, to start finding more goals. Alex Morgan looked the most dangerous outlet in their improved performance against Columbia and the 25-year-old may be the key to helping them get to the final. They have more than enough quality in their team and if every player starts living up to the pre-tournament wraps they can go all the way.

Best moment of the tournament so far

If they’re eliminated by China the highlight of the tournament will be escaping the Group of Death and making it to the quarter-finals. With that being said, realistically their highlight should be winning the tournament as it will be the last change for many of the players.

Key Player

Alex Morgan will be the key. She was the most dangerous and creative player in attack from either team in the Round of 16. The American scored the first goal against Columbia by driving her shot at Castano who could do little more than palm it into her own net.

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If the Portland Thorns striker can fire on Saturday morning she will be the basis for their progression.

Injuries/suspensions

The Americans will be without centre midfield paring Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holliday who have both accumulated enough yellow cards to see them miss one match. It’s a massive blow for the US as they’re both experienced and influential campaigners and the Chinese will be glad that they are not taking part.

Prediction

The US to progress with a 2-0 victory. The only real chance the Chinese have is to stay in the match defensively, steal one on the counter attack and frustrate the Americans into a 1-0 loss. If the USA go ahead, it’s game over for China.

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