Chile and Endler bring the spice if not the goals v the US

19 Jun

This is where I tell you the US did the most amazing thing during their matchup with Chile. OMG, they rotated their squad. Whaaa?!?!?!?!?! I know! WHO DOES THIS?! Just about every top tier team in every top tier league in the world whenever they want. Ahem.

I can’t believe how many people went crazy over this. Yes, all of their players with the exception of the two backup keepers have now played in France. Great. Next.

Sorry (not sorry), this news didn’t impress me much then and nor now. It was a nice gesture for those players who may never play in this tournament else. But not necessarily a kind one. It was calculated. This was competitive grandstanding so some airheads could say the US have the number one and number two teams in the world. Blah blah blah. You don’t. Thanks. You know who actually has two winning senior women’s teams? France.

This is the opposite of grandstanding so you can cleanse your palate – read all about Jess McDonald’s emotional journey to playing in the World Cup. She proved worthy of being a starter going forward after this match. Will she? Doubt it.

Prior to this match there was a lot of chatter over Emma Hayes’ opinion piece from earlier in the week about having smaller pitches and goals for women. I like Hayes. I enjoyed her commentary during the Women’s Euro 2017; she didn’t hold back on her thoughts of teams and players. But on this point, well, she maybe should have held back. Comparing the size of a pitch or goal to the height of a hurdle is interesting but so much not.

England keeper Karen Bardsley (who is 6 feet) had some words in response. Football reporter Kait Whyatt did too. USWNT members Crystal Dunn and Abby Dahlkemper provided their thoughts. And you know all 5 feet 9 inches of Hope Solo got in on the opinion action.

It seems an even more ridiculous discussion given that it bubbled up before and during a match where Christiane Endler (5 feet 11 1⁄2 inches) was making spectacular save after save after save.

The timing of Hayes’ piece has another interesting dimension. It landed right around when some people in England were speculating she may be in the running to be the next Chelsea men’s head coach. I don’t see it happening. She wasn’t considered last year when the women’s team did really well domestically and in Europe. They did less well this year so not sure how / why that would make her a contender within the Chelsea boardroom.

Pre-match festivities

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Match overview

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United States
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Location: Parc des Princes, Paris
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Referee: Riem Hussein (Germany)
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Match details

FIFA messed up the timing of the Chile anthem and abruptly cut it off. Nice.

The US got their first real look at goal three minutes in with Morgan Brien sending the ball over the net. Two minutes later Endler was forced into a near own-goal save with Carli Lloyd sniffing around.

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As expected the US were plugging away on the wings because they don’t really know any other place to plug away in.

Chile started stringing together some nice passing work in their own end. I liked that they didn’t resort to just thumping it up and over. That tactic would have worked here but they’re sticking with the strategy of showing they can play “football”. Unfortunately they stumbled a bit and provided Lloyd with a golden opportunity to slam it home in the 11′ to become the oldest World Cup goalscorer for the United States. 1-0 United States.

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Chile’s Lara was then taken down in the box while defending a header and needed medical assistance. She was okay to continue.

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It took 23 minutes for Chile to get an attacking opportunity but it was enough to get their first goal … err, I mean their first disallowed goal. Carla Guerrero found herself unmarked in the box following a Chile free kick and slotted it home easily past goalkeeper Alyssa Naehler but it was called back for offside.

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Naehler, wow, yeah, ummm. Not good there.

An argument ensued over a goal kick or a corner kick which ended up being a corner for the US. Chile were right – it wasn’t a corner but you can only argue with the referee so much. Julie Ertz got highest and whopped her hair to send a stinging ball towards Endler who got a hand to it but couldn’t handle it. 2-0 United States.

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Ertz followed her goal by strong arming a Chilean player in the face near the middle of the pitch. Nice. Chile were unable to make much of this opportunity. They did, however, win their first and only corner of the game a couple of minutes later. Progress.

The US got another corner in the 33rd minute and this time it was Lloyd who got the highest. 3-0 United States.

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I read some tweets that Lloyd was angry going into the game because she is basically a back bencher now. I can’t imagine any player who considers themselves high-performing likes being relegated to the substitute lineup. Lloyd would be no different. Personally, I think if she’s angry it’s at Ellis’ inability to make a decision regarding captainship and forcing her to share it with Morgan and Rapinoe. Three co-captains? *eye roll* Refraining from making a too obvious joke here.

Chile took another trip down the pitch but Daniela Zamora saw her cross snuffed out by Naehler. Camila Sáez got a little too physical defending and the US were awarded a free kick just outside the area. Davidson took it too early requiring a retake (this seems a theme at the World Cup now) which was sent to Pugh who sent the ball on a trip.

Half-time: United States 3 – Chile 0

The second half started with Chile still keeping things defensively and offensively tight in their own end. Still not going for the long balls which I still say would have worked here at times.

US substitute Jess McDonald wasted no time getting into the action, moving the ball around to release Pugh. Christen Press continued to be a menace forcing Endler to make another good save.

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McDonald did the same and had Endler beat but the ball hit the post instead. Press had a magnificent chance about four minutes later only to be foiled by a flying Endler … again.

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We hit the 70′ without Chile making any inroads outside their own half. But they were defending wonderfully so that’s the positive to stabilize the negative.

A Press v Endler showdown once more with Endler the victor once more.

Also a victor? VAR. Greedy attention seekers. A review was called at the 80′ mark to determine if a foul occurred in the box after Press’ free kick.

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Uh. Maybe the slightest of fouls occurred right on the line? Referee said yes it was and pointed to the spot.

And then … Lloyd missed! HAHAHAHA!! Sorry not sorry. We found this so amusing in the café for no discernible reason. Really. I hold no ill will or contempt against her.

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Five minutes of extra time. Just enough for Allie Long to try and rearrange Zamora’s shin. Why not a yellow there, ref? Mmm? Because you didn’t want to pull a red card? Mmm?

Lloyd tried another header in the final minute sending it wide … again.

Final score: United States 3 – Chile 0

HB & HB Player of the Match: Christen Press USA

VISA Player of the Match: Christiane Endler CHL

Final thoughts

Chile ended the match without any shots on target and only one corner. I’m not so sure this wasn’t part of their strategy? They stayed tight and compact–not unexpected–but they had to know this would limit their offensive force. That it wouldn’t give them the space to get in behind the US defense on any consistent basis unless they forced them to turn back with a long ball. I’m curious if they’ll stick to the same game plan against Thailand or if they’ll open up a bit and allow Lara and Urrutia to direct the play more upfront.

As for the US, all the press and pundits could seem to talk about after the match was their defense and if they are good enough for stronger attacking teams. Chile didn’t provide much more of an attacking threat than Thailand. But their only attack did result in an unmarked player putting the ball in the net past a flapping goalkeeper. That’s an indication of something. Kreiger did have some work to do this match and she was adequate. Is the adequacy of one defender good enough to win a World Cup? We’ve seen it happen before.

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