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China's youth catching up to U.S. experience.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Thursday, July 8, 1999) -- The age differential between China and the United States is not great when the starting lineups are compared - 26.5 for China, 27.6 for the United States.

But there's a four-year spread between the midfield and forward positions on China and the five non-goalkeeper defensive slots on the United States - 25.5 for China, 29.6 for the United States. Which will be key Saturday - the experience of the American defenders or the youth of the Chinese attack?

China appears to be catching up with the United States, going 2-1-0 in three matches this year, after the Americans went 2-0-1 in three confrontations in 1998.

The United States outshot China in every match, sometimes by two-to-one. Starting lineups in the three 1999 matches were nearly identical to the World Cup, except for defender Xie Huilin being replaced by midfielder Pu Wei.

Highlights:

  • April 25 (East Rutherford, N.J.) - Zhang Ouying, in a breakaway, scored in the second minute of injury time to give China a 2-1 victory, breaking a 50-match unbeaten domestic streak by the Americans. Sun Wen had a goal in the 14th minute, Julie Foudy in the 58th. The United States had a 16-8 edge in shots.
  • April 22 (Hershey, Pa.) - Tisha Venturini scored from seven yards out in the second minute of injury time for a 2-1 U.S. win. Michelle Akers converted on a penalty kick in the 20th minute, and Sun Wen, unassisted, equalized in the 59th. Han Wenxia was in goal for China. The United States outshot the visitors, 8-5.
  • March 20 (Loule, Portugal) - China outlasted the United States, 2-1, to win the Algarve Cup, getting goals from Pu Wei in the 16th minute and Jin Yan in the 65th minute, sandwiched around a 45th minute score by Tiffeny Milbrett. Coach Tony DiCicco: "China is very good on the ball." The Americans had a 16-7 edge in shots.

1998 Highlights:

  • July 27 (Uniondale, N.Y.) - Mia Hamm scored twice to lead the United States to a 2-0 win in the Goodwill Games The Americans outshot the Chinese, 19-5.
  • March 17 (Loule, Portugal) - Mia Hamm had three goals as the Americans romped, 4-1, in the Algarve Cup. Kristine Lilly scored for the United States, Qiu Haiyan for China, which was without forward Sun Wen.
  • January 21 (Guangzhou, China) - The United States tied China, 0-0, in a steady rain at the Guangzhou International Tournament, and had a 15-5 edge in shots.

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.

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