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USWNT looks to fine-tune play in next World Cup match against Chile

Chile is unlikely to pose much of a challenge to the United States. The South American country is making its World Cup debut and is ranked 39th in the world.

United States' scorer Samantha Mewis, center and her teammates celebrate their side's 4rth goal during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between United States and Thailand at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, France, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

PARIS — People are still talking about the United States’ 13-0 blowout of Thailand earlier this week, but coach Jill Ellis said the team has moved on. 

The focus is now on Chile. The second U.S. match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup will kick off at noon ET at Parc des Princes, a nearly 48,000-capacity stadium that is expected to be sold out. Fox will broadcast the game.

“The beauty of this tournament is the game you just played is irrelevant,” Ellis said during a news conference Saturday in Paris. “It’s the game in front of you that’s always — ya know, you can do a lot of breakdown on games you played, but the takeaway from game you played has to be on games in front of you. 

“So in terms of our focus, it’s getting better at what we do, it’s the fine details [and], again, having the players in a good place.”

Chile is unlikely to pose much of a challenge to the U.S. The South American country is making its World Cup debut and is ranked 39th in the world. Thailand was ranked 34th.

Chile lost to Sweden 2-0 in its first World Cup match.

“We’ve had a match that was very difficult for us already, now we have this very high-level commitment with the best, until this point, the best national team in the world,” Chile coach José Letelier said through a translator. “This is a match that’s going to be quite difficult for us. … Knowing the magnitude and the actual standard of the rival we face tomorrow, we’re going to try our very best to manage that situation.”

Chile isn’t naive to the mountainous challenge it faces Sunday. The two sides faced each other during back-to-back friendlies last August. Chile lost to the U.S. 3-0 and 4-0 in those games and knows to expect a fast-paced and physical match.

“We learned a lot from that experience. We learned that basically two seconds of not concentrating on what you do can produce a counterattack and a goal,” Chile player Yanara Aedo said of playing the U.S. last year. “So we have to just minimize those advantages that they have and just not abandon our own gameplan.”

When asked whether the U.S. lineup will change at all from the 13-0 Thailand victory, Ellis said, “Well, you’ll know when the lineup comes out.”

She then went on to describe the increased depth of the roster compared to the 2015 World Cup, when injuries limited the amount of rotation she could use from match to match. For example, in 2015 Alex Morgan did not debut until the knockout stage due to a knee injury. 

“We want to make this a long tournament, and to do that we certainly know it’s going to take a lot of physical effort and output from every single one of those players,” Ellis said. 

And those players will not hold back, despite criticism for what some deemed excessive scoring and celebrating during the Thailand match.

“I struggle to tell my team not to tackle in training the day before,” Ellis said, acknowledging it would be wise to avoid the risk of injury with lighter workouts ahead of World Cup matches. “At this point, it’s making sure your focus is on yourself and your performance and you put yourself in the best position to advance in this tournament. For us, it’s making sure that we play as well as we possibly can and win the game.”

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