US quietly beats Chile at Women's World Cup

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PARIS — Carli Lloyd wasn’t thrilled to open the Women’s World Cup on the bench for the United States. She accepted the role, but made no secret she wanted to start.

When the call came Sunday, Lloyd made it count with a pair of goals to lead the defending champions to a 3-0 victory over Chile. The win pushed the United States into the round of 16.

Lloyd was the hero of the World Cup in Canada four years ago when she scored three goals in the final against Japan that gave the Americans their third World Cup title. But she was on the bench when the U.S. opened the tournament, even though she scored later as a substitute in the 13-0 win over Thailand.

“I know that my ability is there, I know this is my best version of me. I’ve just got to go out there and prove it,” she said. “Whether that’s coming off the bench and making an impact, whether that’s starting and getting the opportunity, which I’m grateful for, I’m just trying to make the most of it. I want to win.”

Lloyd became the first player to score in six straight World Cup matches with her goal in the 11th minute.

She added another on a header off a corner in the 35th for her 10th career World Cup goal, which moved her into third on the U.S. list behind Abby Wambach (14) and Michelle Akers (12). At 36, she became the oldest player to have a multi-goal game in the tournament.

She nearly got another hat trick — which would have made her the first player with two in the World Cup — but her penalty kick in the 81st minute went wide left.

On her first goal, Lloyd scored on an 18-yard volley 11 minutes into the game. After leaping, pumping a fist and hugging teammate Lindsey Horan, she raised both hands chin high and made four tiny pitter-patter claps, the type seen more frequently at Pebble Beach than Parc des Princes. She shook hands with teammates instead of exchanging raucous high-fives.

A message? You bet.

“I can’t take credit for it. I’m not sure if Lindsey is taking credit for it,” Lloyd said. “She had told me if we score, that’s what we’re going to do so I just went along with it after I did my little celebration. But it was fun. I think it made a statement on the sideline there. It was cool.”

The record-setting 13-0 rout of Thailand that opened the tournament for the Americans sparked a debate back home. Some cried poor sportsmanship. Others argued players shouldn’t be asked to let up on soccer’s biggest stage.

All the harrumphing was heard across the Atlantic.

Horan said Emily Sonnett, a 25-year-old defender at her first World Cup, suggested responses. Trolling critics was the goal.

“We decided to do something different today,” Horan said with an impish smile. “Handshakes were part of it. Golf clap was part of it.”

The score could have been worse for Chile without unshakable goalkeeper Christiane Endler, who finished with six saves and fended off a flurry of U.S. shots in the second half.

Endler was named player of the match.

“I love the balls coming towards me and being able to showcase my skills,” she said through a translator. “Obviously it’s difficult to maintain concentration. I think in the first half it was difficult for me to get into the game. I think the second half went better for me and in general for the team.”

After the rout of Thailand, U.S. coach Jill Ellis made sweeping changes to the lineup against Chile, including a new front line with Lloyd, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh. Alex Morgan was moved to the bench along with Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath.

Becky Sauerbrunn, who sat out the match against Thailand because of a minor quad injury, returned and anchored a backline that included 20-year-old Tierna Davidson, who was making her World Cup debut. Davidson is the youngest player to start for the United States in a World Cup since Tiffany Roberts against Norway in 1995.

Julie Ertz scored in the 26th minute with a header off a corner kick from Davidson that Endler got her hands on but couldn’t stop. It was Ertz’s first World Cup goal and came with her husband Zach Ertz, a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, looking on.

The United States plays Sweden on Thursday to wrap up the group stage.

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