The U.S. cruised past Chile 3-0 in its second Women’s World Cup group stage game, and it could’ve been worse if not for Chilean keeper Christiane Endler.
The victory clinched a berth in the knockout round, and set up Thursday’s clash versus Sweden with first place in Group F on the line.
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Here are the keys to Sunday’s result:
1: Staying focused.
Despite an easy opening rout of Thailand, the U.S. didn’t look past lightly regarded Chile. And after getting ripped for last week’s goal celebrations, they even trolled their critics by breaking out golf claps to celebrate Carli Lloyd’s first goal.
“I didn’t even notice it. I didn’t really see that,” coach Jill Ellis said. “If it was Carli it was probably a shout-out to her husband. He’s a big-time golfer.”
2: Lloyd herself.
The New Jersey native and Rutgers product almost had a hat-trick, just pulling her 81st-minute penalty kick wide left. She still became the first person to score in six straight World Cup games and the oldest, at 36, to score a brace, even dropping back into her old midfield role.
“A great performance. Both goals from her were fantastic. Just a great strike,” Ellis said. “Would I expect less? No, because I know who it is. But I’m happy for her, happy to celebrate her.”
3: Rotating the lineup.
The U.S. switched out seven starters from the opener, resting Crystal Dunn, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis, Kelley O’Hara and the entire front line. With the possibility of six games in just over three weeks if they reach the final, it’s a huge benefit.
“The players that didn’t play understood, but were excited for the players on the pitch,” Ellis said. “Every single one of them has the butterflies out of the way and has that trust.”