For the first time in 16 years, the United States will take on China in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup soccer tournament Friday night in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The two nations last met in the championship match of the 1999 Women's World Cup, which the US won on penalty kicks at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Women's soccer in the United States and elsewhere has grown from that moment.
Some members of this year's Chinese team were old enough to watch the '99 final on television.
“I was in primary school, but I remember watching it very well," defender Shanshan Wang told FIFA.com. "That was when my dream started, when China played so well [in 1999] to reach the World Cup final. Sun Wen was my favorite player and my hero at that time.”
Now, China and the US meet again, with an opportunity to advance in this year's tournament. After losing their opening match to the host Canadian team, the Chinese have won two of their past three matches.
Defender Shanshan Wang and midfielder Lisi Wang have scored two goals each during the tournament. In three previous encounters, China has yet to defeat the US in World Cup play.
“I hope we can show the world what we have got and impress the audience with our performance,” Chinese captain Haiyan Wu said to FIFA.com. “We want to let them know that China is a very good team.”
For the United States, it's a matter of replacing talented midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holliday, who will miss the China game due to yellow card accumulation. Veteran midfielder Shannon Boxx, who has come off the bench in prior games, could see significant playing time at one of those spots. US head coach Jill Ellis could also think creatively to fill the other spot, perhaps moving one of her substitute defenders into the middle of the pitch.
When it comes to winning soccer, it's also about putting the ball in the net. The Americans have scored six goals in their four games, but some worry about the team's offense hasn't been aggressive enough. Midfielder Carli Lloyd gave ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle an interesting explanation:
"I think it's females in general," she said. "I think we all tend to overthink things, overanalyze things. We want to be at our best, that's the facts. We all want to be playing well, peaking. But it's a game we've played our whole lives, and when we step on the field, we've just got to let instincts take over."
You can watch the US and China in the Women's World Cup quarterfinals, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Friday. Fox will televise both the US-China match, as well as Friday's other quarterfinal between France and Germany, which will get underway in Montreal at 4 p.m. Eastern.