USA and England meet for the first time at the FIFA
Women's World Cup in a quarter-final that the Americans enter
as clear favourites. The two-time champions have won every
quarter-final they have played on the world stage but to make it
five out of five, they may have to raise their game against an
England side who also came through the group stage unbeaten.
USA-England, Tianjin, Saturday 22 September, 20:00 (local time)
USA's pedigree demands that they reach at least the last four at China 2007 and even without reaching their best form, they still topped arguably the toughest of the first-round groups, beating 2003 runners-up Sweden along the way. England have already equalled their best performance at a FIFA Women's World Cup - their quarter-final finish of 1995 - and underlined their credentials by holding Germany to a 0-0 draw in their second match. Kelly Smith - who played professionally in the US - will spearhead the underdogs' challenge but England captain Faye White's ability to cope with USA's in-form centre-forward Abby Wambach could provide the game's defining contest.
When Alex Scott's equaliser earned England a 1-1 draw with USA in the Four Nations tournament in January, she ended her country's six-game losing streak in this fixture. US supremacy was such that in those six encounters dating back to 1990, they accumulated 25 goals while conceding just one. Prior to that, England actually won the sides' first two meetings in 1985 and '88.
England are missing their suspended midfielder Fara Williams and her absence could be keenly felt according to US coach Greg Ryan. "I think she has played very well in this World Cup - in the game against Germany she was fantastic," he said.
The birthday girl
USA midfielder Lindsay Tarpley turns 24 on the day of the game. Scorer of the goal that won the American U-19s a world youth title in September 2002, the US No5 will surely allow herself a small celebration should her side win through to the last four.
England represent a real challenge to us. They attack well, they defend well and they're good on their set-pieces. There's not a lot of chinks in the armour. They're very mobile, a good smart team and have some star quality players. Kelly Smith is a real key attacking player for them but they have some other very good individuals as well - Greg Ryan, USA coach