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United States Loses 1-0 to China in Abby Wambach's Farewell Game

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Old tactics weren't enough to overcome an energetic and determined China.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Depending on how you feel about the United States, it was either a delicious irony or a slightly lackluster end to both a long home unbeaten streak and an even longer career.

For 70 minutes, the USWNT lined up in a 4-4-2 and attempted to serve balls to Abby Wambach to grab her just one more goal in her last game ever. It backfired on them to the tune of a 1-0 loss.

Wambach openly admitted postgame that the whole team focusing on her was probably why they didn't score, an intense bit of clear-eyed honesty about a result that Wambach called "fitting" for her last game. In a way, she was right - Abby's retirement has been all about the end of the old and the beginning of the new, and the United States' first home soil loss since November 6, 2004 seems as good a time as any to reflect on what comes next for this program.

Head coach Jill Ellis continued to rotate in the new players she seems to have settled on for the near future, giving minutes to Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnett, Jaelene Hinkle, and Stephanie McCaffrey, as well as continuing to develop Crystal Dunn and Christen Press. Both Press and Dunn created momentum shifts when they came in later in the game, but didn't really have enough time to work into a groove together.

Despite the attack stuttering in the box, the first half did have a bright spot as Morgan Brian did a fair bit of work in the midfield attempting to dictate the tempo. But Carli Lloyd was in a funk, and neither Alex Morgan nor Horan as her sub were quite on the beat. China struck in the 58' with Wang Shuang's deflected shot catching Solo off balance. Horan livened up a bit after the Press sub and managed an equalizer in the 87' that was called back for offside.

It didn't help that the US' passing was sloppy all over the admittedly bad field. They adjusted somewhat going into the second half but the team just didn't look coherent until Wambach subbed out, a symptom of their desire to tailor the game to the old days of Wambach as target forward.

So yes, the United States lost to China, who deserve much credit for absorbing a good bit of pressure and surging forward when they could. It wasn't the narrative that US Soccer planned out, but adapting to new circumstances and learning to be threatening in new ways are more valuable to the USWNT than narrative.

"Forget I ever existed," Wambach tells us in a Gatorade ad. Move the game forward. Evolve. Make new records. It's time to think about the future.