But the outcome was not as important as it was the farewell for retiring Abby Wambach, the all-time leading goalscorer at the international level.
Wambach played 72 minutes before departing to hugs from her teammates and cheers from the crowd of 32,950 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the largest crowd for a soccer match in New Orleans.
By comparison, Pele drew only
12,500 fans when he played with the Cosmos against the Dallas Tornado at the Superdome in 1976.
Wambach's final U.S. numbers:
-- 255 appearances (5th all-time);
-- 184 goals (1st all-time);
-- 73 assists (3rd all-time).
1998: Florida (NCAA Division I)
2003: Washington Freedom (WUSA)
2004: USA (Olympics)
2012: USA (Olympics)
2015: USA (Women's World Cup)
Wang Shuang scored the
game's lone goal when she got a hold of Wang Shanshan's cross and hit a volley that deflected off Meghan Klingenberg and into the right corner in the 58th minute.
Fourteen minutes later, Wambach came off the field and was replaced by Christen Press.
"Bourbon Street -- look out!" Wambach, ready for a night on the town, told the crowd later.
The USA looked for an equalizer and came close when Lindsey Horan scored but was ruled offside and Emily Sonnett put a header over the goal. Both players are emblematic of a new generation of players coming up behind Wambach: The 21-year-old Horan, who is returning home after four years at Paris St. Germain, and 22-year-old Sonnett, who is finishing up at the University of Virginia.
After the game, Wambach stood with her teammates and watched a tribute video and addressed the crowd.
"I love this team, this country, and it has been my pleasure and my honor to represent you all, the fans, for as long as I’ve been able to," she said. "The reality is, I think symbolically, the way that this game went, I’m walking away, but the future is so bright. These women are going to kill it, I know it. Before I get to emotional, I want to express how important it is to give all of yourself to whatever it is you do."
With that, she dropped the mic.
TRIVIA. The loss was the USA's first at home since a defeat to Denmark Nov. 6, 2004, in Philadelphia.
Dec. 16 in New Orleans
USA 0 China 1. Goals: Wang Shuang 58.
USA -- Solo, O’Hara (Hinkle 46), Sauerbrunn, Johnston (Sonnett 46), Klingenberg (McCaffrey 78); O’Reilly (Dunn 60), Brian, Lloyd, Heath, Wambach (Press 72), Morgan (Horan 44).
China -- Zhao Lina; Liu Shanshan, Wu Haiyan, Li Dongna, Xue Jiao; Tan Ruyin, Li Ying (Zhang Rui 85), Ren Guixin (Yang Man 6); Wang Shuang; Wang Shanshan, Ma Xiaoxu (Gu Yasha 90+2).