The United States Women’s National Team had little trouble in dispatching Chile in an international friendly, 3-0 at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA. Tierna Davidson and Christen Press sandwiched an own goal for the final score that flattered the visitors quite a bit in a strange game.
Along the way, the U.S. had multiple goals disallowed — correctly, questionably, and just plain wrongly — and another goal crossed the line but wasn’t spotted but three was more than enough to win on this night. The United States dominated the visitors throughout, hardly spending any time in its own half of the field.
Jill Ellis started Pride striker Alex Morgan up top between Tobin Heath and Press in a 4-3-3. Press, getting her 100th career cap, wore the captain’s armband. Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, and Rose Lavelle made up the midfield in front of a back line of Crystal Dunn, Davidson, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Emily Sonnett. Alyssa Naeher was between the sticks.
Morgan took the first shot of the match off a set piece, finding the ball at her feet, spinning, and firing just wide of goal four minutes in. It took only eight minutes for the U.S. to grab the lead. Tierna Davidson’s header off a corner kick cross put the USWNT ahead, 1-0. It was the first international goal for the Stanford product.
Chile tried to respond quickly with Naeher having to tip a blast from Karen Araya over the bar in the 11th minute. The Chileans failed to produce anything off the ensuing corner and the one-way traffic resumed in the other direction.
Lavelle fired just off frame from distance in the 16th minute and Morgan blasted a shot right at the keeper in the 22nd. The USWNT racked up corner kick after corner kick and eventually it paid off in a second goal. But first, Christiane Endler made a diving one-handed stop on a Horan header in the 24th minute.
Endler with the save. USA still up, 1-0. pic.twitter.com/DOhEmQHc2l— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) September 1, 2018
Then Sonnett shot over the bar in the 25th. Morgan crossed in a ball for Press in the 31st but she couldn’t get a shot off and it was partially cleared. On the re-entry, the U.S. won a corner and paid it off. Ertz got her head to flick on a Heath delivery and it deflected in off Carla Guerrero for an own goal in the 32nd minute to make it 2-0.
The pressure continued. Heath blasted a shot from long distance in the 37th that forced another good diving save from Endler. Two minutes later, Horan went up for an aerial ball that Endler spilled. Horan scored but the whistle blew and a foul was given for contact with the goalkeeper. It was a 50/50 ball but the keeper nearly always gets that call and so it was.
The game got controversial in the 45th minute and into first-half stoppage. Heath beat Fernanda Pinilla down the right side of the penalty area and the defender grabbed the U.S. forwards shorts. Heath went down and the referee immediately signaled for a penalty.
Press stepped up to take the spot kick and there was a long delay for some heated exchanges between Horan and Chilean players. When order was restored, Press calmly scored the penalty and it appeared the U.S. had a 3-0 lead deep in stoppage, but the referee ruled encroachment on Dunn and the goal didn’t count. Dunn wasn’t the first player into the box — that was a Chile defender which should have resulted in the penalty standing — and encroachment on Dunn should have resulted in retaking the kick anyway. Somehow, a free kick was given to Chile.
It was an unfortunate (and incorrect) ruling and it ruined what should have been a special moment for Press in her 100th cap in her hometown. Regardless, the USWNT took only a 2-0 lead into the break.
Morgan’s night ended at that point, as she was one of four players subbed out at halftime, replaced by Carli Lloyd. McCall Zerboni, Mallory Pugh, and Morgan Brian all came on, with Lavelle, Heath, and Horan all making way.
Despite the subs, the U.S. continued to dominate the game and the chances. Lloyd hit the underside of the crossbar in the 56th minute and the ball hit the ground completely over the line but neither the referee nor the assistant saw it and there is no goal line technology used, so the game remained 2-0. A minute later, Lloyd scored again off a corner kick with a header, but the whistle blew for a foul and again Carli’s effort was wasted.
The USWNT finally got its third goal in the 59th minute. Brian provided a terrific ball to send Pugh down the right flank. The young Washington Spirit star made a superb cross into the box that fell inches ahead of Lloyd’s foot but Press was waiting at the back post to smash it home and make it 3-0.
Press had a couple of chances to add a second just past the hour mark. In the 67th minute she cut inside from the left and fired a shot wide of goal. A minute later, she was nearly on the receiving end of a pass alone in front of goal but defender Rocio Soto did just enough to bother her and her touch went out for a goal kick.
Pugh got in behind the defense in the 78th minute but Endler got a piece of the shot to keep it out. A minute later, on the 15th U.S. corner, Lloyd had a free header but couldn’t keep it down and it sailed over the bar.
Lloyd again threatened goal in the 87th minute, first with a blast on target that forced a Endler save and then heading one right at the goalkeeper seconds later after the ball was cycled back in. Those were the last good chances of the evening and after two injury minutes the final whistle ended things at 3-0.
Although Chile started the match with good pressure on the U.S. attackers when they came forward and showed plenty of grit and determination, Las Chicas de Rojo were simply outmatched and it showed more and more as the game wore on and the visitors tired. A good indicator of the one-way traffic was the final corner kick advantage held by the U.S. (17-1).
These same two teams will do it again on Tuesday in San Jose, CA, at 10 p.m. ET.