June 16, 2019
Carli Lloyd had been blunt leading up to the group stage match against Thailand: she thought she should be starting for the US in this Women’s World Cup, and Lloyd disagreed with Jill Ellis’s decision over several months to use her as a substitute.
“There’s nothing there that’s holding me back except for the coach’s decision,” Lloyd said on Friday. But against Chile, Lloyd got her chance as Ellis heavily rotated her starting lineup to give preferred players a rest – and Lloyd, with two goals, certainly made the most of it, leading the US to a resounding 3-0 win.
Carli Lloyd scores double as USA sweep Chile aside to advance to last 16
With an impressive volley and a towering header, Lloyd became the oldest player to score two goals in a World Cup game and the only player to score in six consecutive Women’s World Cup matches, stretching back to 2015 when Lloyd was the hero of the USA’s trophy win in Canada.
For the Americans, fresh off a record-setting 13-0 demolition of Thailand five days ago, a similar if less spectacular dismantling of Chile was all part of the plan for the world’s No 1-ranked team. The Americans, who have now used all 20 outfield players in their squad, secured their spot in the last 16 regardless of how their final group game goes, and they have put the rest of the World Cup field on notice. “Every one of them have butterflies out of the way,” Ellis said. “And they have trust.”
The English-born coach, seemingly confident about getting past Chile, made a surprise seven changes to her lineup that shellacked Thailand five days earlier. But it actually wasn’t a new tactic from Ellis — she did the same thing during World Cup qualifying in October, when she made wholesale lineup changes for the USA’s second match in the knockout round of that tournament, only to start her first-choice starting XI through the rest of the games.
It took the Americans 11 minutes to open the scoring as Lloyd volleyed a poor clearance into goal. Julie Ertz, the defensive midfielder who is perhaps the USA’s best header of the ball, scored from a set piece in the 26th minute, nodding in after a near-post run.
Ten minutes later, Lloyd scored a header of her own off a corner, rising up above her mark to deliver a driving header into the net. Lloyd could have ended with a hat-trick in the 81st minute but put a penalty wide of the goal to the keeper’s right.
Carli Lloyd scores double as USA sweep Chile aside to advance to last 16
The score surely would have become more out of hand, but Christiane Endler in Chile’s goal had a sensational second half, recording nine saves, including several impressive ones, to stem the bleeding. The Paris Saint-Germain No 1, who happened to be playing in her home club stadium, made a couple of difficult diving parries to deny Christen Press in the 58th and 66th minutes, plus a kick-save in the 74th minute.
The USA found the woodwork three times, with Lloyd hitting the frame twice and Jessica McDonald once.
If the Americans showed a proverbial chink in their armour, it was in a defence that has yet to be tested in this World Cup. Alyssa Naeher, the goalkeeper, made a bad error in the first half that would have cost the US a goal if not for an offside flag. Naeher came out to cut out a free-kick but badly misjudged it and missed, allowing the ball to roll into the net, but Chile’s Carla Guerrero was ruled offside.
Before their meeting in this World Cup, the US and Chile had only faced each other twice in friendlies, both last year, with the US winning by an aggregate 7-0 margin.
Up next, the real test begins for the Americans in their final match of Group F when they face Sweden, the team that knocked the US out of the quarter-finals of the 2016 Olympics, the USA’s earliest exit ever in a major tournament.
“We want to win every game,” said Ellis. “If you get too much into over-thinking or manipulating something, it doesn’t send a good message. “You can’t over-think this.”
Chile face Thailand next – a team that have conceded 18 goals in their first two matches to stand on the brink of elimination.
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