As soccer spectacles go this 1-0 game on a chilly night in surburban Carson before a few thousand fans at the tail end of a long year was not one for the ages.
China were content to remain in a disciplined defensive shell much of the game and went long stretches without getting a sniff of goal, while a tired-looking U.S. found it difficult to break them down and looked out of sorts offensively.
Trojan Amy Rodriguez duly provided the offensive spark coming off the bench to create Tina Ellertson’s goal, but really there were few highlights.
In the end the U.S. were content with a narrow 1-0 win over a quality opponent.
“I would rather play China than a team that’s not going to give us a challenge,” said Torrance’s Shannon Boxx. “We love to compete and if it’s not a challenge for us what’s the point of being out there. We always want to improve even though this is a victory tour and we’re out there having fun, we always out there to get better. Yeah, it’s been a long season and I think at the end I was like ‘let’s keep the win’ – I wasn’t pushing forward as much as I was at the beginning of the game. We’ve been playing for 12 months straight – it’s a long time.”
A sidenote: the crowd was announced at 3,619.The last time the nations met in Southern California they played before a then record crowd of 90,185 at the Rose Bowl in the 1999 Women’s World Cup final back in the Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain era. How times have changed.
Still, the small crowd received a preview of what future Sol striker Han Duan might provide the WPS team, notably rounding Kate Markgraf with relative ease at one point to snap off a shot.
“She’s a great player,” Boxx said. “When I look at China – and we scrimmaged with them the other day – she’s the player that I notice. In the game I was like “wow” she’s doing some great things for China and to play with the Los Angeles Sol I’m excited because that’s someone I get to play with. She’s a great player on the ball and she seems to find space for herself and that’s awesome because I know when I play with her I’m going to get the ball back.”
More on the game is here.