Carli Lloyd
Carli Lloyd is congratulated by her U.S. teammates after scoring the winning goal against China in the Women's World Cup quarterfinals. Reuters

Recap, USA 1-0 China: That the U.S. would win narrowly with a route-one goal would have been predicted by many following its offensive struggles through the tournament, but those facts fail to tell the full story this time around. This was undoubtedly the Americans’ best performance of the tournament so far, with much of that down to the changes in the starting lineup. Morgan Brian offered more natural balance in midfield and Amy Rodriguez’s constant energy and pressing in attack set the tone for a much more purposeful U.S. display both with and without the ball.

Having said all that, the U.S. should have made more of its dominance, with Rodriguez the biggest culprit with an early miss. And that the U.S. needed a single goal courtesy of Lloyd’s fine header from Julie Johnston’s hopeful ball into the box should still concern Jill Ellis. But she will be boosted by Megan Rapinoe’s return from suspension in the semifinals, although whether she puts Lauren Holiday and Abby Wambach into the team will be a huge dilemma. There is no doubt that its next opponents, Germany, is on a different level to any team the U.S. has played so far in this World Cup, but, with a defense that has now gone 423 minutes without conceding a goal, it has a solid base to build upon.

Video highlights:

90+4 mins: And there’s the final whistle! The USA beats China 1-0 thanks to Carli Lloyd’s goal and will play Germany in the Women’s World Cup semifinals in Montreal next Tuesday.

90 mins: Three minutes of stoppage time for the U.S. to protect its 1-0 lead.

89 mins: Chance for the U.S. to make the game safe but Press shoots wide after cutting inside on her left foot. The substitute should have done better there.

88 mins: Despite its slender lead, the Americans look in no danger at all here entering the final minutes.

86 mins: The U.S. makes its final change, with Rodriguez, who had a big impact in this game, being replaced by Abby Wambach.

81 mins: Alex Morgan comes out of the game to be replaced by Heather O’Reilly. Morgan continuing to build her fitness in this match.

80 mins: Hope Solo is called into action, but it’s only to make a simple save from Wang Lisi’s free-kick from way out.

79 mins: China is continuing to show a startling lack of ambition to get back into this game. Trailing 1-0 heading toward the final 10 minutes there’s still no sign that China can trouble the U.S. defense. If anything, the U.S. look more likely to get a second goal.

73 mins: The U.S. hits the crossbar! A wonderful shot from Ali Krieger with her left foot beat Wang in the China goal but came back off the underside of her crossbar and Lloyd was flagged for offside as she struck the rebound over the top.

67 mins: Now 400 minutes since the U.S. last conceded a goal. Another 25 or so more and it will be in the World Cup semifinals against Germany next Tuesday.

64 mins: As I say that, China does put a dangerous ball into the box, but the U.S. defense is again able to avert the danger.

63 mins: Rodriguez hits a shot that was heading for the target before being deflected to safety. China showing few signs of believing it can turn this 1-0 deficit around.

61 mins: The USA now makes it first change as Kelly O’Hara makes her way off the field, with Christen Press taking her place.

60 mins: Big task now for China to alter its defensive mindset in order to get back into this game, especially having scored just four goals at this World Cup.

58 mins: China makes its second change, with Tan Ruyin coming off to be replaced by Pang Fengyue

56 mins: The U.S. is still pressuring after its goal, with China just about clearing its own box following a corner.

Here's a Vine of Carli Lloyd's goal:

More on the goal: The U.S. has been much more varied with its attacking play in this match, but the goal comes from a long ball into the box by Julie Johnston that finds a fantastic leap and equally good header from Carli Lloyd down into the China net. After so much first-half pressure, the U.S. finally gets the breakthrough.

51 mins: Lloyd scores! USA 1-0 China

47 mins: Rodriguez turns on the edge of the box but shoots well wide on her left foot.

46 mins: China gets the second half underway.

Half-time recap, USA 0-0 China: The U.S. played with more movement and fluidity on the ball as well as more urgency when not in possession than it has in any other half at this World Cup. Yet for all its pressure, it failed to test the China goalkeeper nearly as much as it would have liked, with that early Rodriguez chance the closest the Americans came. China has struggled to get out of its half for long periods and will be delighted to get into the interval with the scores still tied. Still, it will be a tough ask for China to continue to keep the U.S. at bayv if the pressure continues.

45+2 mins: And there goes the half-time whistle with the score still USA 0-0 China.

45+1 mins: Morgan controls the ball in the box and gets her shot away, but it’s well blocked by Li Dongna.

45 mins: China relieve some pressure and put a good passing move together that ends with Wang Lisi hitting a shot just wide of the target. One minute of injury time to be played.

41 mins: Ali Krieger hits a deep cross from the right, but Morgan, challenged by two China defenders, can’t stretch enough to get her head on the ball in the box.

36 mins: Well struck free-kick from Lloyd from 30 yards, but Wang is able to get behind it and push the ball to safety.

35 mins: An early substitution for China, which has become something of a pattern at this World Cup. Wang Shuang replaces Lou Jiahui.

34 mins: Almost close to a first good chance for China. Off a Lloyd giveaway, a cross from the right fell just behind China’s top scorer at this World Cup, Wang Shanshan.

33 mins: As China continues to withstand heavy pressure, here's a video of that golden early chance missed by Amy Rodriguez.

Amy Rodriguez Fantastic chance - China vs zidanekrisz

31 mins: A good chance goes begging for the U.S. as Johnston heads Heath’s corner over the crossbar.

30 mins: Given that both teams have been stronger defensively than offensively at this World Cup, it’s little surprise that there haven’t been any goals in the opening 30 minutes. But the U.S. will certainly be the happier, having produced some of their best attacking play of the World Cup.

26 mins: Cleared off the line! Wang comes and fails to get to a looping cross from the right and Julie Johnston sees her low shot stopped on the goal line by Li Dongna. China just about keeping the match goalless.

24 mins: Morgan gets to a high diagonal pass ahead of China goalkeeper Wang, but can’t direct her header toward goal. China hanging on a little here in the face of mounting U.S. pressure.

23 mins: O’Hara this time just unable to reach another cross from the left, but this is the kind of high-tempo spell that has been seen all too rare for the U.S. in this tournament.

21 mins: Another opening for the U.S., with O’Hara stooping to head a deep Tobin Heath cross wide of the post.

20 mins: Decent sight of goal for Morgan after Carli Lloyd’s pass on the edge of the box, but her left-footed shot is hit tamely straight at the goalkeeper.

18 mins: As the U.S. reaches 350 minutes without conceding a goal, Han Peng puts a long-range effort well over Hope Solo’s crossbar.

15 mins: The newcomers into the U.S. side have acquitted themselves fairly well so far. Morgan Brian is offering more of a balance at the base of midfield, O’Hara is providing width down the right and Rodriguez, though she missed that early chance, has been useful with her pace.

13 mins: China wins its first corner, but the U.S. sees off the danger again with a couple of blocks on the edge of the penalty area.

10 mins: China with its first spell of concerted possession, but is unable to get beyond a U.S. defense that has been rock solid in this World Cup.

8 mins: The U.S. goes close again, this time with Kelley O’Hara curling a shot onto the roof of the net. Fairly encouraging start for the Americans, showing more thrust going forward.

5 mins: Alex Morgan fires an ambitious shot at goal from more than 20 yards, but it’s straight down the throat of China goalkeeper Wang Fei.

3 mins: China came into this match having conceded just three goals in its four matches in Canada, but its defense was horribly exposed early on, and Rodriguez really should have taken advantage.

2 mins: Oh, what a chance missed in just the second minute by Amy Rodriguez! The striker, in for Abby Wambach, was played clean through on goal but horribly miscued her finish well wide of the goal.

1 min: And the U.S. kick off, with a place in the semifinals against Germany at stake.

7:25 p.m. EDT: Anthems playing now, with kickoff just five minutes away in this World Cup quarterfinal in Ottawa.

6:30 p.m. EDT: The two starting lineups are in and there’s a big surprise for the U.S., with Kelley O’Hara, who hasn’t yet played a single minute of this Women’s World Cup, chosen to replace the suspended Megan Rapinoe. As expected the other suspended American, Lauren Holiday, is replaced by Morgan Brian. The third change for the U.S. sees veteran striker Abby Wambach drop out to be replaced by Amy Rodriguez, who made her only previous start in the competition in the scoreless tie with Sweden. Here are the lineups for the U.S. and China in full:

Preview: Despite underwhelming so far in Canada, the United States women’s soccer team will start as strong favorites when it takes on China in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals in Ottawa on Friday. The U.S. finished top of the so-called “Group of Death” before dispatching Colombia 2-0 in the first knockout round, but has attracted criticism for its lack of inspiration going forward. Still, the Americans can take plenty of confidence from a formidable record against its next opponent.

It is 24 matches and 12 years since the U.S. last lost to China, while the most famous victory in the history of the women’s national team came against China in the 1999 World Cup final. The U.S. is now striving to lift the trophy for the first time since that win, although it hasn’t been all plain sailing thus far. Since an opening 3-1 win over Australia, Jill Ellis’ team has scored just three times in as many games. And its attacking potential will be weakened on Friday, without suspended duo Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe.

But what has undoubtedly impressed is the team’s defense, which goes into the match with China on a run of 333 minutes without conceding a goal. China have also been defensively strong in getting through to the last eight, however. The team currently ranked 16 in the FIFA rankings has conceded three goals in its four matches to date to finish second behind hosts Canada in Group A, before beating Cameroon 1-0 in the Round of 16. And coach Hao Wei has made no secret of the fact that China will be focusing on defense when taking on the Americans at Landsdowne Stadium, raising the specter of a scoreless outcome to match the one that preceded the famous penalty shootout 16 years ago.

Check back here for live score updates and video highlights from the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal, beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT.