China has been the thorn in the side of both Italy and the United States, but so far they have not been able to get a win in the FINA World League finals. Team USA was in a defensive showdown against China to win 6-4. China is coached by former United States coach Ricardo Azevedo which helped China out quite a bit.
The first thing that he did was to have China double team his son Tony Azevedo and that strategy worked as he was held to only one goal on the day. That goal gave Team USA a 3-1 lead at the half and the defense continued to be the theme of the game in the second half.
Team USA took their largest lead of the game when Ryan Bailey scored a power play goal to make it a 4-1 game, and it looked like the United States was going to cruise to victory. However, China came back in this game when Liang Zhongsing's shot found the back of the net and then Zhang Jian scored another goal to make it 4-3 at the end of the third period. During that two-goal span the United States missed on a power play opportunity.
Team USA's power play had been stellar i games leading up to this one, but they struggled through three quarters against China and were only 1-for-5. The fourth quarter saw a different United States team who scored two straight power play goals. One by Bailey and the other by Peter Vallares.
China made it 6-4 and had a chance to make it 6-5 but Team USA killed the penalty to ultimately win 6-4. Offensively this was not the best performance for the United States and it started by going 3-of-8 on power play chances. Luckily their defense is one of the best in the world which off set their poor offensive showing.
The next game for the United States is against 2-0 Italy on Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. ET, and the winner will earn the No. 1 seed in Group A.