Much-anticipated match ends in a tie for U.S.
GUANGZHOU, China -- Germany and the United States played a scoreless draw, and China picked up a 2-0 victory over England on the first day of the Four Nations women's soccer tournament in southern China.
Friday's much-anticipated match between Germany -- the world's No. 1 team -- and the second-ranked Americans featured few chances for either side. Both teams are playing in the five-day tournament without a several key stars.
The two will be among the favorites to meet in the final of the World Cup, which opens Sept. 10 in China -- the last major organizational test before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Several thousand cheering fans attended the games, dwarfed in the cavernous 80,000-seat Guangdong Olympic Stadium.
The Germans and Americans had few chances in the first half, with American Lindsay Tarpley and Germany's Anja Mittag getting the best shots. Tarpley also made several darting runs in the second half.
"It was a very difficult game for our young players to play, playing against Germany," American coach Greg Ryan said.
"We defended very well, but we have to take care of the ball and be calm about keeping possession."
Germany coach Silvia Neid echoed Ryan.
"Both of us have very young teams here, and you have to take that into account," Neid said. "We have to learn calm down."
Germany had a few chances in the second half. In the 69th minute, American goalkeeper Hope Solo saved Petra Wimbersky's shot from the right wing. Wimbersky also broke in alone in the 81st, but Solo snuffed out the chance.
The Americans tried out several possibilities for a third striker, including Natasha Kai, Heather O'Reilly, Lauren Cheney and Tarpley.
American coach Greg Ryan kept his unbeaten string alive. Since taking over almost two years ago, he is unbeaten in 32 games when they have been decided in regulation time. His only loss was on penalties last year against Germany.
China controlled play with Zhang Ying beating England goalie Siobhan Chamberlain in the 4th minute on a bouncing shot from 15 yards out.
Han Duan, China's top forward, put the ball into the net in the 20th, but the play was called off on a foul. However, she threatened several times in the half and finally scored just seconds from the end, sending a header into the net off a corner from Shi Mengyu.
"We were very quick with our passes on the counterattack," said China assistant coach Wang Haiming, who handled the team in the absence of head coach Ma Liangyu. Ma missed the match with an illness.
"I think I am capable and confident of leading the team to good results while Mr. Ma is recovering." Wang said.
England coach Hope Powell said getting behind early hurt.
"I think at times we were very naive and conceding a goal very early set us back," she said.
Both Germany and the U.S. left some key players at home.
Germany is without star forward Birgit Prinz, a three-time FIFA world player of the year. Other missing players, likely to be starters in the World Cup, include: Kerstin Garefrekes, Renate Lingor, Steffi Jones and Sandra Minnert. The missing players are studying or nursing injuries.
The Americans are also without five key players. Top forwards Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach, defender Christie Rampone and midfielder Aly Wagner are being rested. The other key absence is midfielder Shannon Boxx, who is recovering from knee surgery.
The tournament continues Sunday and Tuesday. On Sunday, England faces the United States and China plays Germany. On Tuesday, it's the Americans vs. China and England against Germany.