It wasn't the prettiest night of soccer from the United States Women's National Team, but they were still able to secure a 4-0 win over Chile late on Tuesday night. Goals from Mallory Pugh and Tobin Heath in the first half helped jumpstart the USA after a slow start, and Carli Lloyd scored twice in the second half to seal the victory.
The biggest storyline of the night was a sad one, though. North Carolina Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni suffered an injury in the first minute of the match. She was subbed off in the fifth minute. Today we learned that Zerboni would miss the remainder of the NWSL season after suffering a broken elbow. Chicago Red Stars defender Casey Short also suffered an injury, but there have been no updates on her status. Both North Carolina and Chicago are preparing for the upcoming NWSL Playoffs.
A slow start and a strong finish
The USWNT started out off balance. It wasn't that Chile was playing them well. If anything the Chilean team was playing worse than they did at the beginning on Friday, but there was a distinct lack of connection from the United States players for the first 30 minutes of the match. As the game wore on the team became stronger, and after Kelley O'Hara was subbed out in the 30th minute for Crystal Dunn things seemed to turn around.
In the 32nd minute, Pugh was fouled in the box and the USA was awarded a penalty kick. Alex Morgan stepped up and took the shot, but Chilean goalkeeper Christiane Endler made the save. The ball was deflected away, but Heath got to the ball first and chipped it back into the six-yard box where Pugh was able to send it into the back of the net.
Just after the restart, Chile had a great opportunity to score. Defender Tierna Davidson was beaten by the Chilean attacking player, but the eventual shot was blocked by the body of Julie Ertz. On the other end, Rose Lavelle took a hard shot from close range, but Endler came up with another big save. In the 38th minute, a free kick was headed twice in the box by the Morgan Brian and Davidson before it found the foot of Heath. She took her shot first time and it bounced down off the crossbar and into the goal. The second half would end 2-0.
Second Half: the Carli Lloyd show
Both teams made a few changes at halftime, but it didn't stem the momentum of the USWNT. In the 47th minute, Heath took a beautiful free kick from the left side of the box, and Lloyd made contact on a diving header that beat Endler. Things settled a bit over the next forty minutes with the United States in constant attack mode while Chile was desperately defending.
Things got interesting toward the end of the second half when Short suffered her injury. The USA had already spent all six of their subs, so they were forced to play with 10 women on the pitch for the final 15 minutes of the match. Just as everyone thought we would have a repeat 3-0 scoreline, Lloyd decided to change the narrative. She took the ball all on her own, beat two defenders and then scored easily against Endler.
The USWNT is currently 11W-2D-0L in 2018 with the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying tournament coming up in a month.