US soccer beats Chile to reach World Cup knockout round

By STEVEN GOFF | The Washington Post | Published: June 16, 2019

PARIS — The goals came in bundles again Sunday, as they often do for the reigning champions.

Not, mind you, at the absurd rate of the U.S. national soccer team's introduction to this eighth Women's World Cup last week, but plentiful enough to breeze to another victory - 3-0 against Chile - and secure passage to the round of 16.

Even with seven new starters, the top-ranked Americans scored three times in the first half and, with Carli Lloyd adding to her World Cup legend by striking twice, toyed with another opponent and performed with the ferocity and expertise that has made them favorites for a fourth crown.

Lloyd, a month shy of her 37th birthday, missed a chance for a hat trick late in the match when she sent a penalty kick wide.

Sweden also remained perfect in Group F with a 5-1 victory over Thailand, setting up a showdown with Jill Ellis's squad Thursday in Le Havre for first place in the quartet.

With a superior goal differential — the first tiebreaker — the United States will require only a draw to claim the top spot and make plans to play June 24 in Reims, the site of the record 13-0 romp over the Thais last Tuesday.

If not for Christiane Endler's second-half masterwork in the Chilean net, the result would have climbed to embarrassing levels in front of a heavily pro-U. S. gathering of 45,594 at Parc des Princes.

The Americans improved to 19-1-3 all-time in group play, the only defeat coming to Sweden in 2011. Their shutout streak reached six matches and seven in the past eight this year.

Besides overhauling the lineup, Ellis pulled three players who had started both matches, leaving a fresh group for the Sweden clash. Only goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher has played all 180 minutes.

Everyone on the 23-strong roster, except the two reserve keepers, have made appearances.

Lloyd, in her fourth World Cup, increased her World Cup goal total to 10 and became the first to score in six consecutive Cup matches. (She struck in the last four outings in 2015 in Canada.)

Ellis figured to make a few personnel changes, but seven? It's been said the U.S. roster is deep enough to field two formidable teams. Here was an opportunity to prove it.

None of the lineup decisions were necessitated by injury; Ellis had planned them all along, wanting to have a fresh squad available for the group finale.

The four holdovers were goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, center back Abby Dahlkemper, midfielder Lindsey Horan and Julie Ertz, who returned to her usual place in defensive midfield after providing cover in central defense against Thailand.

Becky Sauerbrunn (University of Virginia) returned from a minor injury to partner with Dahlkemper. Ali Krieger, a Dumfries, Va., native on her third World Cup squad, replaced Kelley O'Hara on the right side of the back line, while Tierna Davidson bumped Crystal Dunn on the left.

Davidson, who last winter left Stanford a year early, became, at 21, the youngest U.S. World Cup starter since Tiffany Roberts in 1995.

Morgan Brian, a former Virginia star in her second World Cup, joined Ertz and Horan in midfield.

Like Krieger, Brian was chosen to the roster despite falling out of favor in recent years. World Cup experience figured prominently in Ellis's choices.

The front line was all new: Lloyd, Mallory Pugh and Christen Press were in, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath were out.

It did not matter.

The ball rarely crossed the center line as the Americans put their stamp on things from the opening minute and did not relent.

After three early threats, including Lloyd's rebound bid off the right post, the United States went ahead in the 11th minute on Lloyd's first goal - a hellacious half-volley from 17 yards.

Chile's clearance attempt floated to the top of the penalty area. Ertz charged. Lloyd moved laterally. Lloyd swung her left leg and smashed a shot with such force and accuracy that Endler did not bother to pursue.

Before extending the lead, the Americans survived a scare midway through the half. With a bit of trickery on a 30-yard free kick, Claudio Soto served the ball behind the U.S. defense.

Naeher failed her first test of the tournament, coming off her line too late and not making contact as Carla Guerrero directed it into the open net.

Guerrero, however, was a step offside.

The lead grew in the 26th minute on the first of two consecutive goals off Davidson's corner kicks.

On this one, however, Chile seemed to have a legitimate beef about the corner being awarded. The ball might have crossed the end line off Pugh before a Chilean intervened.

On the corner, Davidson delivered to Ertz making a near-post run. Ertz is a defensive-minded player, but over the years, she has become a lethal threat nodding set pieces at the closest corner.

She did it again here with a no-look header from six yards that beat Endler to the near side.

Nine minutes later, Davidson was the provider from the same corner, lofting the ball to the edge of the six-yard box. Lloyd timed her leap and powered the header into the left side of the net.

Ellis rested Ertz in the second half and inserted striker Jessica McDonald, a move that nudged Lloyd into the midfield. Soon thereafter, Lindsey Horan also got an early breather, making way for Allie Long.

Endler, who played at the University of South Florida and is now a member of Paris Saint-Germain, made four terrific saves early in the second half.

Also, McDonald hit the right post with a bending effort from distance and Lloyd headed off the crossbar.

Emily Sonnett (U-Va.) made her Cup debut in the late stage, replacing Dahlkemper.

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