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Women's World Cup, Day 15 - USA vs. China

The USWNT will be without Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe today for a quarterfinal match against China.

Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Today we continue to <a href="">#ComeTogether</a> as <a href="">#OneNationOneTeam</a> to cheer for the <a href="">#USWNT</a> as they take on China! &#10;&#10;<a href="">#GoTeamUSA</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) <a href="">June 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Action from the 2015 Women's World Cup resumes today with the first pair of quarterfinal matches. In the early game, two of the tournament favorites--France and Germany--will battle for a spot in the semis, and in the late game, China and the USA will play for a semifinal spot against the winner of the first game.

In case you missed it, Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe are unavailable today as a consequence of picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament in the USA's 2-0 win against Colombia.

There's been a tremendous amount of speculation about how Coach Jill Ellis will set up the team today without Rapinoe and Holiday. There's also been a good deal of commentary about how Ellis should set up the team. Kevin McCauley of SB Nation has an excellent summary of the options. I agree with McCauley's assessment that the most likely option that Ellis will choose is to replace Holiday with Morgan Brian and Megan Rapinoe with Christen Press while leaving the formation the same. The downside of this is that Brian isn't a holding midfielder, and she has no real experience in that role. On the other hand, Christen Press was used on the right wing in the opening game, and Tobin Heath can play on the left, so Press and the rest of the team won't have to adapt to something novel--only Brian will be asked to play a different role.

However, there's good reason to think that a different formation might be more suitable with Holiday and Rapinoe unavailable. In my opinion, a midfield diamond anchored by Shannon Boxx is a better option in general; in particular, it addresses the team's vulnerability to counterattacks. However, for it to be effective, I think Abby Wambach needs to play up front rather than Amy Rodriguez since the USA will inevitably resort to a direct approach. Furthermore, I'd put Heath on the left (instead of Brian) and put Press at the top of the diamond. It's very unlikely that Coach Ellis will be that adventurous, though.

To be fair, Coach Ellis' favored formation probably provides the best framework for attacking the unusual defense that the Chinese employs. China plays an extremely narrow back four, which should mean that playing two wingers in midfield that can cross balls into the box for Abby Wambach makes sense tactically. And if that's the strategy that Coach Ellis employs, then Heather O'Reilly may be the preferred player to replace Megan Rapinoe. In any case, with China inclined to pack defenders into the middle of the pitch, the USA will have to adapt, and in this instance, that probably means a more direct approach in attack.

Although there's no evidence of turmoil within the USWNT, there's been speculation that Jill Ellis has lost control of the team based on the fact that a few players have publicly named their preferences to replace Holiday and Rapinoe as starters today. That theory strikes me as extremely far-fetched. Although the USWNT is packed with incredibly talented individuals, the squad is notorious for its lack of discipline off the pitch. In my opinion, players speaking out of turn about tactics and personnel decisions is just another example of this.

SB Nation has half a dozen interesting articles previewing today's match for those who want more in-depth analysis. However, for those who want a brief summary of what to look for, check out SB Nation's "3 things to watch for in USWNT vs. China."

Although most Americans will be focused on the USA-China match this evening, the afternoon game between Germany and France may be the best game of the entire tournament. Germany is currently the top-ranked team in the world, and France isn't far behind at #3. Although the French started slowly in group play, they've come on strong and look ready to challenge the Germans. Both teams are stingy in defense, dominant in midfield, and can break down opposing defenses with exquisite passing and movement. In my opinion, Germany has a slight advantage based on its superior athleticism in midfield--Anja Mittag, Célia Šašić, and Dzenifer Marozsán are dynamic in attack. France will probably need to dominate possession in order to beat Germany today. If you want to see high-quality, technical soccer, then be sure to tune in to watch the early game.

Day 15 Matches

FIFA Day 15 Preview

Game 1: Germany vs. France

Kickoff: 1:00 PM PDT

Location: Olympic Stadium, Montreal

Live Streaming and International Coverage

United States Coverage: Fox Network, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra, Fox Soccer 2Go USA, SiriusXM FC

SB Nation's Germany-France Preview

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Germany vs. France, 2015 World Cup: Time, TV schedule and live stream - SB Nation <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; TV Weekly Plus (@tvweeklyplus) <a href="">June 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Game 2: China PR vs. USA

Kickoff: 4:30 PM PDT

Location: Landsdowne Stadium, Ottawa

Live Streaming and International Coverage

United States Coverage: Fox Network, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra, Fox Soccer 2Go USA, Telemundo, NBC UNIVERSO, SiriusXM FC

SB Nation's China-USA Preview

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">USA vs. China, 2015 World Cup: Start time, TV schedule and team news - SB Nation <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; China Herald (@chinaherald) <a href="">June 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

The Knockout Stage Quarterfinals Bracket

SB Nation's Knockout Stage Bracket

Quarterfinals Schedule

26 June 2015
1:00 PM PDT

Olympic StadiumMontreal

26 June 2015
4:30 PM PDT
China PR
United States

Lansdowne StadiumOttawa

27 June 2015
1:00 PM PDT

27 June 2015
4:30 PM PDT

Please enjoy this 2015 Women's World Cup Day 15 thread with your fellow Bruins.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="">#ComeTogether</a> tonight for your <a href="">#USWNT</a>. <a href="">#1N1T</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Houston Dash (@HoustonDash) <a href="">June 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>