Top News

DEREK VAN DIEST: American women's soccer machine keeps rolling at Women's World Cup

 Emily Sonnett of the U.S., centre, in action against Chile’s Carla Guerrero and Yessenia Lopez during the Women’s World Cup Group F match at Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday, June 16, 2019. (Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters)
Emily Sonnett of the U.S., centre, in action against Chile’s Carla Guerrero and Yessenia Lopez during the Women’s World Cup Group F match at Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday, June 16, 2019. - Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS, France — They’re loud, they’re proud, they’re well supported, and for the moment, the United States are taking it to opponents at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The United States defeated World Cup debutants Chile 3-0 at the Parc des Princes here on Sunday in a game not as close as the score would indicate.

Carli Lloyd scored twice and missed a penalty for the hat trick, while Julie Ertz added the other for the United States.

Chilean goalkeeper Christiane Endler, however, stole the show, making outstanding saves to keep the score respectable.

“Just as a fan of the sport, she made some spectacular saves,” said U.S. head coach Jill Ellis. “Certainly in a game where you feel you’re going to get the result, there is less anxiety when their goalie is pulling out these unworldly saves. She got player of the match in a game they lose 3-0 and I’m good with that. It was great, it was really good for her.”

The biggest question going into the game was not if the United States would win, but how they would celebrate goals?

Lloyd answered the question with a golf clap on her two markers — a not-so-subtle jab at the team’s critics after its 13-0 defeat of Thailand on Tuesday in Reims.

The United States embarrassed Thailand and then embarrassed themselves with some cringe-worthy goal celebrations after the game was well in hand. Captain Megan Rapinoe came under particular scrutiny for her extravagant celebration after scoring a goal to make it 9-0.

Rapinoe and star striker Alex Morgan, who had five goals against Thailand as everyone knows because she was counting them off, were both left on the bench against Chile as Ellis rotated through her squad.

“I can’t take credit for it, I’m not sure if Lindsay (Horan) is taking credit for it,” Lloyd said of the muted celebration. “She had told me if we scored that’s what we were going to go, 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 sidelines. It was cool.”

In total, Ellis left 10 goals on the bench from the previous win and has given every outfield player an opportunity to play in the tournament with one group game remaining against Sweden in Le Havre on Thursday.

“I think the players that didn’t play understood and were excited for the players that were on the pitch,” Ellis said. “I think in terms of building momentum, I think now every single one of them have the butterflies out of the way and now they know that trust is there from the coach and that’s a huge part to be able to show them trust in terms of playing players in the biggest stage of their careers.”

The United States is looking to repeat as World Cup champions and as was the case in Canada four years ago, have an enormous travelling fan contingent following them around.

Americans made up the majority of the 45,594 who packed the Parc des Princes creating a fabulous atmosphere.

The United States scored all three of their goals in the first half and then watched as Endler, who plays her club soccer with Canadian Ashley Lawrence and soon with striker Jordyn Huitema at Paris Saint-Germain.

“I think it’s really important for this team to keep pushing and fighting and bringing that energy that we have and that hunger that we have to score at this World Cup,” said U.S. striker Christen Press. “We want to have good performances and have good results and I think that’s what the squad is about. It’s about also sending a statement to other teams of what we’re here to do and what we want to accomplish.”

The women’s game in Chile is still light years away from the United States, but the fact they qualified for the tournament indicates they are making progress.

But the United States is still setting the standard when it comes to women’s soccer, in large part because of the NCAA college system that other countries cannot compete with in terms of funding and development. It’s a system that greatly benefits Canada as well.

It is going to take something special to knock the United States out of this tournament. Fortunately for Canada, they will likely not have to worry about the United States until the final.

The American’s next group game against Sweden will be their toughest in the opening round.

Sweden defeated Thailand 5-1 earlier in the day to qualify for the second round along with the United States.

“We have really short memories during the tournament and even the highs, even the 13-0 games we just put it behind us when the game is done and we’re hungry and we have a lot of energy to play,” Press said. “We have an important match ahead of us and we just move on and I think the team has a great ability to do that, to just put the good and the bad behind, put it in a box and move forward.”

Email: dvandiest@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

Recent Stories