Commentary

USA-Chile Women's Friendly: Carli Lloyd shines in smooth U.S. win

USA-CHILE EXPRESS:
Sept. 4 in San Jose, Calif.
USA 4 Chile 0. Goals: Pugh 34, Heath 38, Lloyd 47, 93+.
Att.: 14,340

Exactly one month before the USA faces Mexico in the first game of its qualifying campaign for the 2019 Women's World Cup, Coach Jill Ellis' team cruised to a 4-0 win over Chile.


1. Carli Lloyd remains a key weapon for USA

Mallory Pugh, who scored the USA's opening goal against Chile on Tuesday, was 8 years old when Carli Lloyd scored her first goal for the USA in 2006. Lloyd, who turned 36 in July, came on as a halftime sub for Pugh and scored with her first touch, a diving header that met Tobin Heath's free-kick cross. Lloyd also scored the USA's final goal, in stoppage time, with sharp low strike after zig-zagging past a befuddled Chilean defender.

Lloyd, who famously scored a hat trick in the USA's 5-2 win over Japan in the 2015 World Cup final, has come off the bench in all but three of her 15 appearances for the USA in 2018. She was also the USA's most dangerous attacker after coming on at halftime in last Friday's 3-0 win over Chile -- ensuring that we'll continue to see more of the 2015 and 2016 FIFA World Player of the Year.

2. Pugh fares best of the new starters

Coach Jill Ellis made six changes to the starting lineup from last Friday's 3-0 win over Chile in Southern California, bringing in goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, outside backs Kelly O’Hara and Casey Short, central defender Abby Dahlkemper, midfielder McCall Zerboni, and forward Pugh.

The 20-year-old Pugh scored her 12th U.S. goal with her knee from close-range after goalkeeper Christiane Endler saved Alex Morgan's penalty kick. Heath delivered the rebound to Pugh, who had been fouled on the PK call. Her appearance off the bench on Friday had marked her first U.S. game since April because of a knee injury -- and she assisted in the 3-0 win.

The Chileans weren't good enough to give Harris, who had only one easy save to make, a chance to impress. Dahlkemper played well but Ellis is sure to bank on the Becky Sauerbrunn-Tierna Davidson central defensive partnership. (Davidson, who scored her first goal on Friday, assisted on Heath's goal on Tuesday.)

Sadly for Zerboni, she fell badly after getting fouled and left injured in the fifth minute -- to be replaced by Morgan Brian. Dunn replaced Kelly O’Hara, who because of injury was making her first appearance since March, in the 31st minute. Dunn played dynamically in the midfield -- assisted on Lloyd's second goal -- but is likely to return to outside back.

3. Rose Lavelle should strive for Heath-like consistency and confidence

The 23-year-old Rose Lavelle and 30-year-old Heath provide some of the most entertaining, skillful and effective play for the USA. Heath finished the game with a goal and two assists -- and should have had three assists but Lavelle failed to beat Endler one-on-one after Heath's superb setup with a delicate chip.

U.S. midfield dominance was thanks much to Lavelle, so rarely troubled by a tackle. But a bit too often, after so secure on the ball, she rushes and mis-hits the pass. Lavelle could also be bolder about going to goal.

How Lavelle progresses will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the USA's 2019 World Cup quest.

TRIVIA: Lloyd's goals were her 101st and 102nd tonight in her 259th U.S. appearance.

Sept. 4 in San Jose, Calif.
USA 4 Chile 0. Goals: Pugh 34, Heath 38, Lloyd 47, 93+.
USA -- Harris, O'Hara (Dunn, 31), Dahlkemper, Davidson, Short, Lavelle (Horan, 61), Ertz (Sauerbrunn, 74), Zerboni (Brian, 5), Pugh (Lloyd, 46), Morgan, Heath (Rodriguez, 61).
Chile -- Endler; R.Soto (Galaz, 60), Guerrero, Lara (Gutierrez, 71), C.Soto, Araya (Urrutia, 89), Aedo, Lopez (Grez, 79), Santibáñez (Zamora, 46), Leyton, 1Saez
Referee: Christina Unkel (USA)/Karen Abt (USA)
Att.: 14,340

Stats Summary: USA / Chile
Shots: 24 / 4
Shots on Goal: 12 / 1
Saves: 1 / 8
Corner Kicks: 6 / 0
Fouls: 8 / 9
Offside: 5 / 2

8 comments about "USA-Chile Women's Friendly: Carli Lloyd shines in smooth U.S. win".
  1. Bob Ashpole, September 5, 2018 at 1:48 p.m.

    Lloyd can do the same things Abbie did in the box, and even more with the ball. Even at 36 she has shown she deserves to play. The problem with being great at 36 is that it is no assurance as to what the next year will bring. She just has to keep doing her best, but then that is what she has always done. I don't want to take anything away from the other players--they are all outstanding--, but my first choice today to sub at the 9 position would be Lloyd. 

    What is with the CONCACAF roster limit of 20 players instead of 23 for qualifying? Is that a deliberate ploy to hamper the USA women? 

  2. Chance Hall, September 5, 2018 at 2:58 p.m.

    As always, congratulations to the USA Women's Team for the win.  However, while I know the coaches are still looking at players and formations the overall style of play does not seem comfortable or efficient.  They've had a few games where they did look both, but they've not been consistent.  In those few games they played with what I think may be the American style of play.  Always after the ball after losing it especially in the opponents third of the field.  Constant pressure.  Possession of the ball makes defense so much easier.  Exposure on the outside flanks seems to be a real issue.  And without Hope Solo in the back to cover for those outside backs who get caught out of position it's something that must be addressed.  I'm sure the other countries have noticed this as well.  It's hard to miss.  Good Luck ladies.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, September 5, 2018 at 10:26 p.m.

    The whole idea of playing friendlies two at a time is to give everyone some minutes, not just starters. That sacrifices some improvement in "starters" for added improvement in all the players. I suspect the coach is thinking the the players are playing regularly for their club teams so that will keep them sharp.

    I think everyone realizes depth in the attacking positions is heavy, but not so much in the back line. Kelley O'Hara's injury was and still is a serious problem. The most serious lineup question to answer this year was at keeper. That has been answered, but back line depth is still a problem. And I am happy to see the coach spreading playing minutes around. The lack of minutes for alternative keepers has been a problem for the US WNT for many cycles. This coach may avoid that trap.   

  4. James Madison, September 5, 2018 at 7:07 p.m.

    I agree with Mike's comments about LaVelle, but she wasn't the only one who passed far too casually and why she didn't go for goal when it beckoned was puzzling.  The team looked the best when it was 10 v. 11 and Chile was so tired it surrendered the midfield.  Lloyd looked fit and fast.  Her second score was a make-up for the howler she missed over the top after being set free earlier in front of the goal.  Instead of taking the shot, she could easily have squared the ball to Morgan, who was open for an almost tap-in.  Morgan battled hard against the most tenacious of the Chile defenders, but her penalty kick was inexcusable and she was twice unable to cut the ball back to Dunn who was unmarked in the penalty area and lusting for a shot on goal.  Ertz, Heath and Davidson were the best of the rest, even though Davidson embarrassed herself by going to ground and losing an attacker midway in the first half.  O'Hara impressed until she had to come off.  With Dunn solid at LB, O'Hara can be moved to her more natural RB position.  Neither Pugh nor Rodriguez are as useful as the missing Press.

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, September 5, 2018 at 10:32 p.m.

    Regarding Pugh, she is coming back from injury and not used to playing with Lloyd at No. 9. Pugh is just 20 and still at the start of her learning curve as a professional. Not making excuses, but just pointing out that assuming that Pugh is going to keep playing at the current effectiveness is probably a bad assumption. She is a long way from hitting a plateau. 

  6. R2 Dad, September 6, 2018 at 4:28 p.m.

    I didn't find the Sauerbrunn Davidson pairing especially convincing. They passed well around the back to avoid pressure, but Sauerbrunn's crosses were misplayed and Davidson mostly checked back and across--I think I saw her surge forward once. Against a grossly mismatched Chile, it wasn't noticeably bad, but against a top 5 team they become a liability. It appears Ellis previously wanted to play Davidson at RB to give the WNT more options but Davidson isn't able to contribute there. Aside from Dunn, the back line and keeper are the weak links. Sauerbrunn is 33--won't it be too late for her to contribute at 34? If her legs are gone, why does she continue to get minutes? This just delays the inevitable.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, September 6, 2018 at 9:47 p.m.

    R2 Dad, the answer to your question is that the US WNT plays so much better with Ertz in the midfield that Ellis needs to develop CB pairings that don't include Ertz. If I remember correctly, Dooley not only played until age 39, he was the captain. Longevity varies with the individual. The WNT counterpart is Lilly of course. She was 37 for her final cap.

  8. R2 Dad replied, September 7, 2018 at 11:52 a.m.

    When we had few options, old people were all we had. Field players flame out often before their 30's but certainly by early 30's, at least at the international level. Keepers can be exceptions and can be productive into their late 30's. Hopefully we've seen the last of 100 caps for the mens team and 200 caps for the women. There are too many good players now to allow coach/fan favorites to keep them in the side if they're not producing  *cough* *michaelbradley* *cough*

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