U.S. Soccer Team Advances At Women's World Cup In France
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The United States turned in another impressive performance at the Women's World Cup. Now, it wasn't 13-nothing, the score by which the Americans defeated Thailand, such a drubbing that some people complained the Americans went too far. But it was a shutout, as the U.S. defeated Chile 3-0. The team is now guaranteed to advance to the knockout round. NPR's Laurel Wamsley is in Paris.
LAUREL WAMSLEY, BYLINE: The atmosphere inside the Parc des Princes stadium was electric and very American. Fans were decked out in red, white and blue, sometimes on their cheeks, sometimes wearing the American flag like a cape. Tickets for the U.S.-Chile game had sold out, unlike many other matches in the tournament that have had lots of empty seats. Even before the game started, fans were amped by the recent big win over Thailand. And they urged their team to show them some more fireworks.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED SOCCER FANS: (Chanting) U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.
WAMSLEY: The U.S. dominated from the start, with crisp, clean passes and pressure at the Chile goal. And the U.S. had an almost entirely different lineup from their first game, seven new players in the starting 11. But it didn't matter. The team played with finesse and power, and it didn't take long for the U.S. to start scoring. Team captain Carli Lloyd hammered the first goal into the back of the net in the 11th minute.
WAMSLEY: She's the first person to score in six consecutive games in the Women's World Cup. Fifteen minutes later, Julie Ertz doubled the Americans' lead with an expert header off a corner kick from Tierna Davidson. She's the team's youngest player at 20, appearing in her World Cup debut. Davidson served up another corner a few minutes later. And Carli Lloyd scored again, also on a header. U.S. fans were thrilled at what they saw, including A.K. Linehart Minnick from Boise, Idaho.
A K LINEHART MINNICK: Carli Lloyd has demonstrated that she has a work ethic above and beyond anything. She's out there leading with that big heart. And then you see Mallory Pugh, who's, like, this newcomer. And she's got so much ability, it's scary. And they were, like, knocking her around, and she'd get back up and get in their face and take the ball. And it was - I mean, it was an amazing performance.
WAMSLEY: Playing and winning with the team's reserve squad was an act of confidence by U.S. coach Jill Ellis. But it was also strategic, letting all of her players work out any anxiety before the more difficult games that lie ahead.
JILL ELLIS: We need them in a good place. And if they can have minutes, and the butterflies are kind of out the way, then I think it helps us down the line.
WAMSLEY: The U.S. will now face their longtime foe, Sweden, who knocked them out in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics. But the victory over Chile guarantees that the U.S. will advance to the next round of the tournament. And they're one step closer to their mission here in France, winning the Cup. Laurel Wamsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.