The United States have underwhelmed thus far in the Women's World Cup, but they're still in the quarterfinal having not conceded in three games. China - their opponent in the 1999 World Cup final - awaits, and they've similarly made their way through the tournament on the back of a sound defense. The challenge for the US will be to fire on all cylinders going forward, but that won't be easy with Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday suspended. Otherwise, China's ability to feed their forwards with long balls to chase could eventually turn into real danger.
Key player: Tobin Heath
With Rapinoe suspended, someone needs to be the USWNT's scheme-breaking player. Let's face it: Tactically, the US is not going to change in the ways they need to, so the reliance on individuals to save the day will continue tonight. Heath is a good bet in that department, but her methods are very different from Rapinoe. The US needs to make sure they're finding Heath when she's isolated against a fullback and can put her absurd dribbling skills to work. That also needs to happen further up the field, so that Heath is getting into the box immediately upon getting past her marker. It's not as useful if she's beating a Chinese defender 30 yards from goal unless the US is on a fast break.
Key question: Will the US make hard work out of a team they are far more talented than?
The game against Colombia turned on a red card moments into the second half, but before that you had to wonder how long it would take the USWNT to get themselves a goal. Colombia wasn't doing much more than clogging up the field, but that was enough in the first 45 minutes.
China is a better team than Colombia. They're more organized, they appear to have smarter individuals, and I suspect they have better fitness as well. Their tactical approach will be different going forward - look for many more balls to be served over the top - but the idea of bunkering down will be more or less the same on the defensive side of things. The US will have to move the ball more quickly and more fluently than they did against Colombia, or we could be in for another slog.
Match date/time: Friday 6/26, 7:30pm Eastern
Venue: Lansdowne Stadium (Ottawa)
TV: Fox (English), NBC Universo (Spanish)
Online: Fox Soccer 2Go (English, requires subscription), NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra (Spanish)
Check back in two hours for our gamethread.