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U.S. women’s national team defeats Chile 4-0 in final World Cup qualifying tuneup

September 4, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Team USA forward Tobin Heath (17) is congratulated after scoring a goal against Chile goalkeeper Christiane Endler (1) during the first half in an international friendly soccer match at Avaya Stadium. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Behind goals from Mallory Pugh, Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd, the United States women’s national team pushed its unbeaten streak to 21 games, defeating Chile 4-0 in an international friendly at Avaya Stadium four days after earning a 3-0 result against the same opponent.

“We are in a good place, and it speaks a lot about the quality of the players we have,” head coach Jill Ellis said. “We really picked it up, and it’s always good to get a result, so I was pleased overall.”

The lopsided result in front of an appreciative crowd of 14,340 pushed the women’s record at Avaya Stadium to a perfect four wins in four games as they’ve outscored opponents 18-2 at the home for soccer in San Jose. In 44 all-time games played in the state of California, the U.S. women have never lost.

“I love Avaya Stadium,” Heath said. “I think it’s a beautiful stadium and we get great fans here. We just love coming here. It always has a great energy and it’s some place we look forward to coming to.”

The U.S. will hope the momentum gained from this two game set with Chile will serve the team well next month when qualifying for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France begins. 

“Chile was a good opponent for us going into Concacaf qualifying,” Lloyd said. “They’re pretty similar to the teams we are going to face. We played two good matches and a lot of player got time, we scored some great goals, and we can go into qualifying confident and ready.”

The U.S. starting 11 featured two players with Bay Area roots. Defenders Abby Dahlkemper and Tierna Davidson both grew up in nearby Menlo Park. Davidson, currently a junior at Stanford University, scored the opening goal — and her first international goal — in Friday’s win against Chile.

Head coach Jill Ellis was forced to make an early sub because McCall Zerboni had to leave the game in the fifth minute with an elbow injury. She was replaced in the midfield by Morgan Brian.

The change was a bit of a blow for the Americans, but within minutes they were knocking on the doorstep of Christiane Endler’s goal. Pugh, making her 37th appearance for the senior team, skied a shot attempt inside the 6-yard box with just the goalkeeper to beat.

Pugh would get her chance to atone, though in unusual fashion, after earning a penalty kick in the 33rd minute. Alex Morgan stepped up to the spot, but her low effort was parried away by Endler. Heath was first to the rebound, sending the ball back into the mixer for Pugh to bundle home from close range.

“We had to energize ourselves because the opponent wasn’t really giving us any energy,” Heath said. “We had to give it to each other. It can be difficult at times, but we figured it out and we got the job done.”

The goal seemed to inspire the Americans, as they swarmed the Chile defense in search of a second. In the 37th minute, Rose Lavelle got behind the defense, but Endler made an impressive stop.

One minute later, the U.S. doubled its lead through Heath, who blasted a shot off the underside of the crossbar and over the goal line. Davidson provided the assist.

At halftime, the U.S. made its third change of the night, bringing in Lloyd for Pugh. She wasted no time getting on the score sheet, heading home a free kick by Heath in the 47th minute to push the lead to 3-0. It was Lloyd’s 101st goal of her career, extending her lead among active U.S. players.

“Bringing the work ethic is standard for me,” Lloyd said. “Creating chances and just helping the team in any way possible is my job. As a sub going on, you’re expected to change the game, and that’s what I tried to do.”

The Americans were not tested the rest of the way, even after defender Casey Short’s night was cut short due to a leg injury in the 77th minute. Even down a player, the U.S. enjoyed the edge in shots and possessions over the last 15 minutes of the game.

And in the third minute of stoppage time, Lloyd added her second goal of the night with a superb finish. Her strong performance earned Lloyd player of the game honors.

“Her coming in was a game-changer,” Ellis said. “To get the early goal was huge, and she was class on the second. She’s so consistent in being able to give us a spark, and she always gives us the very best she has in terms of effort and energy.”

The two goals, giving her 102 for her international career, was extra special given that in last week’s game, she had two apparent goals waved off. She was pleased to have this game as an opportunity to forget that injustice.

“It’s always good to score as a forward. You’re meant to be scoring goals and getting on the score sheet, but it’s even more important to get the win,” Lloyd said, then added with a laugh, “I just had to make up for last game when my goals were in and they didn’t count.”

The two-game set of international friendlies marked the first matches played between the two countries in women’s soccer. Chile has already qualified for the 2019 Women’s World Cup by virtue of its second-place finish in the 2018 Copa America Femenina, while the U.S. will hope to punch its ticket to the summer tournament in France at next month’s Concacaf Women’s Championship.

“We are well prepared in terms of the games coming in,” Heath said, “so now it’s about putting it all together in a moment that counts.”

Earlier in the day, it was announced that the Americans will face Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago in Group A at the quadrennial qualifying competition as they aim to earn one of the region’s three automatic berths to the World Cup. The USA won the competition four years ago, moving on to earn its third World Cup title the following summer in Canada.

“There’s a variety in style in our group,” Ellis said, “so playing a South American team with that style where they want to keep the ball was good preparation in terms of our opponents.”

Starting lineups

USA (4-3-3): Ashlyn Harris; Kelley O’Hara (Crystal Dunn, 31), Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Casey Short; Rose Lavelle (Lindsey Horan, 61), Julie Ertz (Becky Sauerbrunn, 74), McCall Zerboni (Morgan Brian, 5); Mallory Pugh (Carli Lloyd, 46), Alex Morgan (C), Tobin Heath (Amy Rodriguez, 61).

Chile (4-5-1): Christiane Endler (C); Rocio Soto (Su Helen Galaz, 60), Carla Guerrero, Geraldine Leyton, Camila Saez; Francisca Lara (Ana Gutierrez, 71), Claudia Soto, Karen Araya (Maria Jose Urrutia, 88), Yanara Aedo, Yesenia Lopez (Javiera Grez, 79); Barbara Santibanez.

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