The United States Women’s National Team can continue their impressive run of form in the build up to next year’s World Cup with victory in their friendly at home to Chile in the Stubhub Center in Carson, California on Friday (11pm ET on ESPN2).
USWNT have won 16 times in a 19-match unbeaten streak that began last July and have emerged victorious from a pair of friendly tournaments this year. In March, they lifted the SheBelieves Cup; earlier this month, they added the Tournament of Nations trophy.
The latter competition was won with high-scoring wins over Brazil (4-1) and Japan (4-2) and a tightly-fought draw with Australia, who were within moments of securing the trophy only for Lindsey Horan to pop up with a last-minute equaliser in the match between the sides. The overall impression the team provided was positive, albeit not unreservedly so.
It is clear now just how strong a squad coach Jill Ellis will be able to take to next year’s World Cup in France as the United States seek to retain the trophy they won in Canada in 2015. Various injury problems have emerged this year and each time solutions have been found. Fringe players have stepped up and produced displays that have demonstrated their quality.
There can also be no doubt as to the side’s attacking potency. Nine goals across their three matches in the Tournament of Nations matched their average of just under three goals per match over the course of their 19 matches unbeaten. Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are in particularly fine form, having had a direct involvement (scoring or assisting, sometimes both in unison) in 18 of the last 22 goals that Team USA have scored.
The one issue that has been evident in recent fixtures, and which has, indeed, been somewhat of a longstanding problem, has been the team’s vulnerability in transition. There is a lack of a well-organised structure in midfield when the ball is turned over and teams with the ability to break quickly and decisively have caused some headaches.
On balance, however, USWNT are deservedly favorites with the legal US online bookmakers for France 2019.
They will be joined there by Chile, who qualified for the first time in their history by finishing as runners up at the Copa America that they hosted earlier this year. With solid backing from their federation, a relatively rare occurrence, including the organisation of warm-up friendlies and a pre-tournament training camp, they achieved their goal.
Chile will prepare for their World Cup debut by testing themselves again some of the sport’s best teams. This two-match series against the USWNT will be followed by a trip to Australia at the end of the year. It is a tough schedule, but one that will provide valuable experience for a side who have hopes of at least making it through the group stage in France next year.
Jose Letelier’s team certainly look better positioned to do so than the last South American debutant Ecuador. They lost all three of their matches at Canada 2015, including a 1-10 defeat to Switzerland, with a squad made up entirely of players who plied their trade in the amateur domestic league. Chile, in contrast, have a number of players who play professionally in Europe and elsewhere, including Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Christiane Endler, Sevilla midfielder Francisca Lara and Valencia forward Yanara Aedo.
The quality of the national team’s performances during the Copa America resulted in a number of squad receiving offers to move abroad, primarily to Spain, whose Primera Division will feature 11 of the players who have travelled to the United States for these friendlies in the 2018-19 season. They will be able to prepare for the World Cup in a professional environment.
Chile have also shown good form this calendar year, losing just once, to Brazil, in 10 matches.
The USA women’s soccer team is, however, by some distance the strongest team that Chile will have faced in that time – a point underlined by the fact that they have twice scored four goals in 4-3 and 4-1 victories over Brazil over the course of the last 14 months. While Chile will undoubtedly be keen to show that they are no pushovers, it is the USWNT who can be expected to secure a relatively comfortable victory in Carson on Friday.
Our Preview’s United States Women vs. Chile Picks & Predictions Verdict
The bookies have been slow to publish odds for this game and at time of writing there are none. Once available our advice is as follows:
- Bet on United States to be winning at both half-time and full-time.