How to watch: The United States-Chile match is on Fox Sports and Telemundo. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. in Paris, or noon Eastern Time. To find out which broadcaster holds the rights where you are, click here.
Here’s what you need to know right now:
In case you missed it: Thailand scored today.
Battered by the Americans on Tuesday, Thailand got its first goal of the World Cup today. It came from Kanjana Sungngoen against Sweden, and it was a beauty.
It didn’t change much: Sweden got a penalty a few minutes later and closed out a 5-1 win. But it meant something to the Thai coaching staff, at least one member of which immediately burst into tears.
Ellis talked about building momentum. So why change seven starters?
Jill Ellis has talked a lot in France (and before) about how winning the World Cup is about building momentum as the tournament goes on. So how does changing out seven starters for the second game work into that?
Well, in many ways it doesn’t. Relationships in the midfield and the back line take time to develop, so changing out players isn’t necessarily helpful. But Ellis and her team also have talked a lot about depth, and how the tournament is a grind, complete with unforeseen injuries and yellow-card suspensions and other hiccups. So today, another game the United States expects to win, is probably her last chance to get a handful more players into the tournament in the most meaningful way.
After that it’s a game against Sweden (which beat Thailand, 5-1, today) for first place in the group on Thursday in Le Havre, and then the knockouts, where there (probably) will be no more tinkering on this kind of scale.
Today’s starting lineups: Seven changes for the U.S.
United States lineup: Alyssa Naeher; Tierna Davidson, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Ali Krieger; Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Morgan Brian; Christen Press, Carli Lloyd (c), Mallory Pugh.
Chile lineup: Christiane Endler; Javiera Toro, Camila Saez, Carla Guerrero, Su Helen Galaz; Francisca Lara, Karen Araya, Claudia Soto; Rosario Balmaceda, Maria Jose Urrutia, Daniela Zamora.
A reporter asked Lindsey Horan on Saturday if she considered the United States the best offense in the world.
“I like to think that,” Horan said. “I think what’s so special about this team is the depth in it.”
Well, Jill Ellis is sure showing off that trait today: she has made seven changes from the team that she sent out to demolish Thailand. Her second-string front line — Press, Lloyd and Pugh — replaces Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath. But that’s hardly it.
Morgan Brian, the last player to make the U.S. roster, starts in midfield, and Tierna Davidson (in her first World Cup game) and Ali Krieger (in her 14th) are in for outside backs Crystal Dunn and Kelley O’Hara. Davidson, 20, is the youngest player to start a World Cup match for the United States since Tiffany Roberts in 1995.
Becky Sauerbrunn returns at center back, too; she was held out of the Thailand game with what was described by team officials as a “quad” issue.
Will we see 13 more goals today?
It’s unlikely, but never say never. It’s hard to imagine the United States matching the sheer dominance of last week’s baker’s-dozen thrashing of overmatched Thailand. But Thailand, at No. 34, is actually five spots ahead of Chile in the current FIFA world rankings, though that may have to do more with the team’s recent history than their current state. One positive for Chile is that it has a world-class goalkeeper organizing its defense: Christiane Endler.
Endler, 27, grew up with little ambition of making a career in soccer, but eventually was encouraged to commit herself to goalkeeping. After starting for Chile as a 17-year-old in the 2008 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, she made her way to the University of South Florida and then the Europe, where she has been named the top goalkeeper in Spain (with Valencia) and France (with Paris St.-Germain this season).
The United States surely knows about her: when the teams played two friendlies last fall, Endler made a combined 17 saves in the two games. But merely holding the score down again is not the goal on Sunday.
“When we come out to play a match, we don’t come out thinking, Oh, let’s lose but not by much,” midfielder Yanara Aedo said. “I don’t think it would be a victory if the U.S. beats us not by a lot of goals, but by only a few goals. It’s not a victory to lose by a small margin against the U.S.A. A victory for us is to play well, to the best of our capabilities, and playing the way we know to play.”
Does recent history offer clues about today?
The United States and Chile played twice last fall, three months before they were drawn into the same World Cup group. Are there lessons to be learned from those meetings? Perhaps.
Unsurprisingly, the United States dominated both matches, winning by 3-0 and 4-0. The majority of the goals came off set pieces, which if often the case when a skilled, well-trained elite team meets a far more inexperienced one.
“They were obvious really intense matches,” Aedo said. “We knew that they were really high-speed games, Any kind of rival that is as quick and as physical as they are, they don’t give you much time to think on you feet.
“For most of us in the team, it’s actually been useful to see how that elite of women’s soccer plays, so we can sort of judge ourselves against them, measure where we’re actually at.
“We got a lot out of it. We learned that even two seconds of not concentrating on what you’re doing can produce a counterattack and a goal. So we maybe know a little more of what we’ve got in front of us.”
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