USWNT v Chile x 2

Remember the last time the USWNT faced off against Chile? No, you don't, because it's never happened. Ever. Seriously!

Friday night and again on Tuesday, the USWNT and Chile will begin a new era for stats nerds. You too can memorize the first goal scored between the two teams for use in future WoSo trivia contests. Will Press score on her 100th cap? Will Chile hand the USWNT their first loss in more than a year? Eh, probably not. But, with Chile already qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, it will be a good test for the Americans ahead of their own qualifiers which kick off just a month after Tuesday's clash.

Chile has been in the country for a few days after a luxurious long flight in steerage/ economy/ sardine can class. Their captain, Christiane Endler (who is used to just slightly better treatment with her club at PSG), rightly took it upon herself to highlight the disparity between the conditions under which the men's and women's Chilean sides are shuttled to international competitions. Hmm, a goalkeeper interested in equality who is unafraid to speak her mind. Sounds vaguely familiar.

Chile's women are unlikely to find more equitable treatment here in the United States, where (despite their repeated superior results in every aspect of everything including attendance) the women continue to not be treated equally by USSoccer.

You may have missed it, but the EEOC complaint filed by several of the USWNT players back in the Jurassic period has still not been settled as the EEOC continues to slowly wait out the complainers—oops—I mean "investigate"—what has been a clearly documented case of non-equal treatment based specifically on the gender of the employees. Why bring this up now? Because your outspoken love-her-or-hate-her best goalkeeper in American history has had it with waiting.

I'm pretty fed up with waiting too, Hope. There's no excuse for keeping these obviously unequal practices institutionalized in the governing bodies of our sports other than that they either want to keep them that way or lack the imagination and leadership to figure out how to change it. Re-do the budget and make it happen. Start from there. 

Hey, at least once Chile arrived they got to go to the Redondo Beach! So that's fun.

If you're on the east coast like me, you'll be getting ready for a late night of soccer as we get our final glimpse of the squad before the matches really start to matter.

But what do we really need to know?

 "Basically, we can't be stopped by anyone." -Horan, probably

"Basically, we can't be stopped by anyone." -Horan, probably


USA v Chile

Friday, August 31 at 11PM Eastern on ESPN2 

—AND—

Tuesday, September 4th at 10PM Eastern on ESPN2

First off, there will be a 100 caps celebration for Christen Press on Friday. When she's on, she's on, and her form at Utah has been getting better recently as she's figured out that getting herself surrounded by nine defenders and passing to an open ARod is a really easy way to score goals for her team. That's exactly how Utah tied up a match on the final kick in eeeexxxxxtttttrrraaa long extendo stoppage time to crush Sky Blue's hearts a couple of weeks ago, but it works! 

Who's on the squad?

 "Someone just said they could cover us on set pieces near the goal!" - Ertz, probably

"Someone just said they could cover us on set pieces near the goal!" - Ertz, probably

Oh wait, that's not the final roster after all, because Megan Rapinoe won't suit up as she rehabs a minor injury ahead of the NWSL playoffs and subsequent USWNT WWC Qualifiers. Amy Rodgriguez takes her place!

Interesting inclusions on the roster are Kelley O'Hara and Mallory Pugh. They've both missed significant portions of their club seasons at Utah Royals and the Washington Spirit, respectively, and have only recently been seeing longer minutes (well, at least Pugh). 

Who is in goal?

If the past is any predictor, this pair of matches will be all Alyssa Naeher, all the time. If play at the national level is based on league form, you'd have to wonder why AD Franch isn't starting. She's been stout as the Thorns have turned around a bleak start to the season to secure a playoff berth. She's certainly been better than Ashlyn Harris (though she's hardly the only one to blame for all the goals being gifted to everyone by the Pride lately). Naeher's early NWSL season was outright bad, with giveaways and howlers on the regular. But as the Red Stars have improved so has she. She's still going to boot the ball into the stands sometimes, but her experience should give her the nod going into qualifying. 

 Fierce, and just warming up.

Fierce, and just warming up.

What's the plan?

Chile is a bit of an unknown. But considering the success the USWNT have had in dominating midfield play and working the wings, I'd suspect we'll see a healthy dose of Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan one-touch-passing their way to lots of goals. Dunn has been exceptional at whatever she's been asked to do, so there is some flexibility for Ellis outside depending on how she wants to work O'Hara back into the lineup.

Pugh and Lavelle have not been lighting up the world at the Washington Spirit, but some of that could be tactical. With a new coach, and in a very different system (with a functioning, healthy midfield), they may be able to remind us why they were so highly sought after by the league.

But, I'd expect Ellis to be trying various tactics she wants to use in October and forcing the squad to make them work regardless of what Chile tries to do. It's the last set of games that don't really matter, but the stakes next month get real.

Chile!

Though the nations haven't faced off, many of the players on the Chilean national team play at a very high level for clubs around the world. 11 of the 20 women selected play in Spain, and I've already mentioned PSG's goalkeeper Endler. It's unlikely that either match will be as challenging for the USWNT as either of the two recent tournaments hosted by the USA. However, the visiting 39th place FIFA ranked squad will hope to look like a competitor on the rise as they take on the world's best. It would be foolish to count them out completely before seeing them play, but barring an abysmal performance by the home side, these two matches are likely to be losses for the visitors.


Predictions:

Friday: Press scores a goal, Horan scores a goal, Ertz scores a goal and McCall Zerboni scores a goal (all four on incredible and unselfish Tobin Heath assists) while Naeher surrenders just one. USA 4-1 Chile

Tuesday: (if you're in Massachusetts, kindly go vote) Chile looks somewhat better, but Ellis blows up all expectations and starts Franch in goal. AD promptly secures a clean sheet while the USWNT secure victory as Heath gets a well-deserved goal of her own, followed by goals from Pugh and Sonnett. Crystal Dunn matches with a brace. USA 5-0 Chile.

October is coming.