It was a nearly an exact repeat of Friday’s match as the United States Women’s National Team dominated Chile en route to a 4-0 win that could have been much more lopsided. Mallory Pugh, Tobin Heath, and Carli Lloyd provided the offense for the U.S. at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, CA. The U.S. improved to 18-0-3 in the last 21 matches across the last 13 months.
It was the final tuneup for World Cup qualifying and all went fairly smoothly with the exception of the team picking up a couple of knocks in the match. The USWNT has now completed its 2018 slate of friendlies and Jill Ellis and company can turn their attention toward the Concacaf Women’s Championship, which will determine the confederation’s representatives in the 2019 FIFA World Cup.
After Friday’s 3-0 win over Chile at the StubHub Center, Ellis rolled with Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris in place of Alyssa Naeher. Her back line for the second meeting ever with Las Chicas de Rojo consisted of Casey Short, Tierna Davidson, Abby Dahlkemper, and Kelley O’Hara. The middle of the 4-3-3 was McCall Zerboni, Julie Ertz, and Rose Lavelle, while Heath, captain Alex Morgan, and Pugh made up the attacking line. Zerboni left the game very early after picking up an injury and was replaced by Morgan Brian.
The first good scoring chance (that we could see — ESPN2 didn’t pick up the coverage until the game was four minutes old due to an NWBA playoff game running long and the network refusing to build in a pregame show for our national team) came from Morgan, who picked out Pugh with a perfect cross but the Washington Spirit star skied her shot over the bar from point-blank range.
The U.S. continued to be wasteful with early chances. Heath and Pugh each fired wide from the top of the box in the 14th and 15th minutes, respectively, with the latter passing on an opportunity to slip Morgan in behind the defense. Moments later, Short strayed well offside to wreck a building attack.
The United States finally broke through in the 34th minute. Pugh was taken down by Camila Saez in the penalty area after successive passes from Short and substitute Crystal Dunn — who replaced O’Hara in the 31st minute. Morgan stepped to the spot but left her shot too close to Christiane Endler, who parried it away. But the ball didn’t get far before Heath got to it and chipped it back into the middle. It flew inches over Morgan’s head and hit Pugh, who bundled home her 12th career goal off her knee to make it 1-0.
Mallory Pugh puts the U.S. out in front! pic.twitter.com/EffVWu76kw— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) September 5, 2018
Chile nearly pulled the goal right back. Davidson misplayed the ball and turned it over in front of her own penalty area in the 34th minute but the attack fizzled when Dahlkemper recovered and blocked a shot to keep it at 1-0.
Lavelle should have scored the second U.S. goal in the 37th minute when Heath threaded a pass to put her in alone on goal. But Endler made a fantastic reaction save from point-blank range to keep the margin at one goal, if only for the moment.
The U.S. doubled the lead in the 38th minute through a set piece. The ball from long range found Morgan Brian on the left and she headed it back across the 18-yard box, where a flick header from Davidson found Heath, who got to it first and cracked it off the underside of the crossbar and in to make it 2-0. It was Heath’s 21st goal for the USWNT.
Lavelle fired right at Endler with a wasteful effort in the 40th minute as the U.S. continued to press the attack. Two minutes later, Ertz had a free header from close range but hit it right at Endler. The final chance again came from Heath, who made a brilliant move to get loose down the right, dribbled through two defenders and crossed in for Lavelle. Unfortunately, the cross was about an inch too high for Lavelle to get on frame and the U.S. took its 2-0 lead into the locker room.
Chile continued to struggle on set pieces and it cost them a third goal early in the second half. Heath whipped in a brilliant cross and second-half sub Carli Lloyd got her head on it to score her 101st career goal in the 47th minute.
Morgan put the ball in the net two minutes later but she was correctly ruled offside, leaving just a step early. The Pride striker then fired just wide in the 53rd minute as she searched for her 91st career international goal. She then found Lloyd in the penalty area with a nice cross in the 57th but Carli fired off target from short range.
Endler made two huge saves to keep the score line from getting ugly in the 61st and 62nd minutes on Dunn and Morgan, respectively. She dove to her right to just get a hand to Dunn’s effort from the top of the box, then held her position well on Morgan’s right-footed effort from a tough angle moments later. Davidson fizzed a shot wide in the 64th as the one-way attack continued.
Dunn fired over the bar in the 68th minute then sent Lloyd in on a rare counter attack in the 72nd minute but Carli fired off target again. Amy Rodriguez got in behind the defense in the 78th minute but made a real mess of her shot attempt and put it into a low Earth orbit. Three minutes later, A-Rod ignored a run by Lloyd and took it herself but hit her shot right at Endler from the top of the box.
At this point the USWNT was playing with 10 because Short suffered an injury and limped off to the locker room after Ellis had used up all of her substitutions. No matter, the U.S. saw out the remaining time and even added a fourth when Lloyd and Morgan broke in on a late counter. Lloyd used Morgan’s run as a decoy and slotted home her 102nd goal to complete her brace in the 93rd minute.
The USWNT improved to 2-0-0 against Chile. Harris had very little to do and I’m not certain Chile even tested her once.
The U.S. will return to action on Oct. 4 when the Stars & Stripes take on Mexico in the Concacaf Championship in Cary, NC.