The USWNT would follow their 13-0 domination of Thailand by winning 3-0 against Chile. The lineup featured seven changes for Jill Ellis’ team as it seemed like Alex Morgan, Sam Mewis, and Megan Rapinoe got a little tired after scoring so much in the first match. Left back/no. 10 that is playing defense Crystal Dunn made way for Tierna Davidson who became the youngest American in 24 years to start in a World Cup. The changes would pay off in terms of a win and perhaps getting some of the starters from the first match a bit more rest ahead of the Sweden game which will decide the winner of the group.
With a loss to Sweden and a winnable game against Thailand up next, if Chile was going to have a chance to move forward in the tournament, they probably needed at least a draw in the game. They were compact and organized, though a few mistakes may mean that the result of the next game won’t matter and the World Cup will be over after the next game. In the end, they couldn’t contain the US attack and a brace from Carli Lloyd and goal from Julie Ertz would bring all three points to the Americans.
American Werewolves in Paris
It would not take too long for the team to score their 14th goal of the tournament. Carli Lloyd would beat Julie Ertz to a bounding ball that Chile failed to clear as they tried to keep their defensive shape in their own defensive third in the 11th minute.
WHAT A GOAL FROM CARLI LLOYD!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 16, 2019
Dream start for the USA! pic.twitter.com/txYUkQTCTN
She then celebrated the goal in a measured and precise way that was absolutely appropriate and correct given the context of the situation, scoreline and barometric pressure so as to not offend anyone on Father’s Day.
i take absolutely no credit for anything this team achieves on the pitch but I will take credit for the inspo behind this celebration pic.twitter.com/jI8TIYDCeV— A West (@ayyy_west) June 16, 2019
Not wanting to be left out, Ertz sent a terrifically placed header that she smashed toward goal on a corner. Chile keeper Christiane Endler would get a hand on it, but the ball had more power than she could handle.
#WWCTelemundo ¡Hermoso gol de cabeza! de @julieertz y aumenta la ventaja de @USWNT— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) June 16, 2019
Este es su gol 19 con la Selección y 1ero. en #FIFAWWC
Y #USA ya gana 2-0 a #CHI pic.twitter.com/jwWISV7fZT
After continuing to work to breakdown the Chile defense, the US got yet another corner and scored the third goal of the game. It would be none other than Lloyd climbing over a defender and directing the ball out of the reach of Endler to make it 3-0.
#WWCTelemundo ¡ Otro más de @CarliLloyd ! en un remate de cabeza anota su gol 113 con @USWNT— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) June 16, 2019
Y #USA ya gana 3-0 a #CHI pic.twitter.com/LOLxSO6aqd
As the second half began, Jill Ellis decided to get more attacking power on the field, or give someone a rest, and take Ertz off for Jess McDonald. The next 45 minutes would be defined by the US rarely having to deal with Chile in their half defensively and Christiane Endler making fantastic saves like this.
Good thing for the #USA it got its scoring done early, because Christiane Endler has put on a SHOW this second half— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) June 16, 2019
(via @TelemundoSports) pic.twitter.com/RaSeSMDDTs
Endler was an absolute lifeguard in the second half, saving everything the USA, and especially Christen Press, threw at her goal. That would include doing a Hope Solo style Jedi mind trick on Carli Lloyd making her smash a penalty with everything she had wide of the net (I could link the video but this is better).
This was a pretty good movie pic.twitter.com/jsHPOC26RH— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) June 16, 2019
If you hear someone snap their fingers and then half of all creation suddenly vanishes it’s probably Lloyd being slightly annoyed that she missed her PK.
Endler’s game would end and the US would take all three points on a 3-0 scoreline.
Ceci n’est pas une pipe
The boxscore highlights how dominant the US was in the game. Chile barely had the ball and when they had it they couldn’t do much of anything to challenge the lead the WNT built in the first half.
The shooting chart is a tale of two teams - one playing with a constellation of stars burning brightly in the night sky - the other with a more difficult time competing at this point. Still, it was a solid performance from a side whose federation neglected their program so badly they were de-listed by FIFA in 2016 as they get ready to take on Thailand.
Finally, the individual player stats give an idea of who the focal point of the attack was for the USA.
Woman of the match - Carli Lloyd is back
There were questions swirling around Carli Lloyd coming into the tournament: was she past her prime? Could she still perform at a high level after an abysmal, for her, season in NWSL last year and a 2017 season in which she only played 647 minutes? If she plays, what will be her role? With the US needing to play tactics more focused on possession, is there room on the field for a player who gets the ball and immediately tries to score? Those questions may not have been answered, but she was excellent in this game.
If there is one thing that defines Lloyd it is her commitment to do whatever she needs to do to peak at exactly the right moment. It seems to even define her personal relationships as she detailed in her book with regards to conflicts with her family over her personal soccer trainer. If there is another thing that defines Lloyd - it is taking all of the criticism and doubt that is directed toward her and turning it into performances that proves everyone wrong in spectacular and memorable ways. In this game it seems like Lloyd is getting ready to put it all together as the US prepares for a tough match against Sweden and the tournament truly gets set to begin in the elimination games.
Maybe just don’t let her take penalties?
Things are about to get real
The story of the USWNT since the 2016 Olympics has been - what will they do to repeat as World Cup champions? They aren’t quite there yet, but the signs are promising and the answer seems to be - spend three years to try a lot of things, fine tune, fine tune, fine tune, and find the right personnel combinations to make everything work and start putting it all together when the time comes. With seven changes to the lineup and a dominant performance against a solid defensive side and possibly the best goalkeeper in the world, it seems like things are coming together at exactly the right time.
Still some questions will remain for the US though. In 2015 Hope Solo was in net and helped nail down the win against Germany in the semi-final thanks in part to melting Celia Sasic’s brain and then saving her penalty. Alyssa Naeher is not quite at the same level as Solo. She has hardly been tested against Chile and Thailand and one of the times she was needed, Naeher misjudged the play.
Nervy moment for the U.S. defense!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 16, 2019
Chile have the ball in the back of the net off the free kick, but Guerrero was offside by a couple steps. #FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/xws82zwr8O
Luckily, Carla Guerrero was called offside, but it’s on Naeher to not let easy saves float between her arms and turn into embarrassing howlers. She will need to step up as the competition gets tougher in the final group game and elimination games once the second round starts.
The team will have everything going for it against Sweden. They own the goal differential tie-breaker if the game ends in a draw, the attack is firing on all cylinders even with personnel changes, and their confidence is riding high. The game will also be a way for the USWNT to show they’ve grown and that the team has learned and developed after the last time they faced Sweden in a competitive tournament as they continue their quest for the 4th championship star.