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Chicago teammate Press enters quarterfinal clash with China as second-half sub

By Gunnar Berndt
Photo credit: ISI Photos

Quarterfinal: USA vs. China 1-0
Red Stars: Julie Johnston (DEF), Lori Chalupny (MID-DEF), Shannon Boxx (MID), Christen Press (FWD) – all USA

Widely considered the American revelation of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Red Stars defender Julie Johnston on Friday continued her rise to stardom with a standout performance against China that helped her side advance to the semifinals courtesy of a well-deserved 1-0 victory. In addition to being her usual reliable self in the back, the reigning NWSL Rookie of the Year threatened offensively on several occasions, one of which saw her bag the assist on Carli Lloyd’s game-winning header after the break.

With Chicago captain Lori Chalupny and midfield legend Shannon Boxx on the gameday roster for the USWNT, fellow Red Stars standout Christen Press entered the field in the 61st minute of a contest that saw her side dominate from the get-go and create a number of quality opportunities.

The Red, White and Blue could have taken an early lead, Lloyd threading a beautiful pass through to Amy Rodriguez, whose mishit chip from close range sent the ball well wide of the frame. While continuing to pressure, Head Coach Jill Ellis’ squad was unable to find the net before the halftime whistle, Alex Morgan firing straight at goalkeeper Wang Fei on a nice combination play before superb work by Tobin Heath on the left culminated in a cross that was sent just wide via diving header by Kelley O’Hara.

Chicago’s Johnston had one of the closest looks of the opening period when Wang Fei spilled Ali Krieger’s looping ball from the right straight into the path of the 23-year-old, who was unlucky to see her attempt at the open net cleaned off the line by Li Dongna. Center back Johnston had yet another promising chance when she pushed forward on a Heath corner kick and saw her determined header sail just over the frame.

It would be Julie Johnston on the attack yet again just after the interval, and this time she made her involvement count, hitting a well-timed long ball from just inside the opposition half that was met by the head of Lloyd for an unstoppable finish past Wang Fei and inside the right post. Krieger subsequently came within inches of putting the match away with what would have been a spectacular strike, as she rattled the corner of the goalpost with a left-footed rocket from the right edge of penalty area.

The Chinese attacking efforts late in the game never seriously threatened American netminder Hope Solo, whose side held on to earn a mouthwatering semifinal clash with fellow international giants Germany on Tuesday, June 30.

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