This time Carli Lloyd was the history-maker, bagging two first-half goals in a 3-0 victory over Chile – and propelling the U.S. to the knockout rounds.
Lloyd became the first player to score in six consecutive World Cup appearances, and the oldest – at 36 years and 11 months – to nab multiple goals in a Women’s World Cup game.
Lloyd’s dominant display came on a day the U.S. rested six starters. The comfort with which it eased to three points anyway highlighted its absurd depth, and reinforced its status as tournament favorite.
Carli Lloyd’s scoring spree continues
Lloyd scored in every knockout-round match at the 2015 World Cup as a midfielder. Her famous hat trick in the final led the U.S. to the top of the women’s soccer world.
Four years later, she came off the bench to extend her streak against Thailand. On Sunday, she started up front and broke the deadlock on 11 minutes:
Lloyd appeared to mock criticism of the team’s celebrations against Thailand with a golf clap after her opener.
Later in the half, after Julie Ertz put the U.S. up 2-0 with a trademark header, Lloyd posterized a Chilean defender to nod home her second, and the team’s third:
She bombarded the Chilean goal all half. She hit the post three minutes in. She had other efforts saved by Chilean keeper Christiane Endler, who was the only reason 3-0 wasn’t 6-0.
After being drawn back into a midfield role for the second half, Lloyd remained one of the most influential players on the field. And she could have had a hat trick, but dragged a late penalty wide of the post.
Still, her performance, and the team’s, showcased the talent up and down this USWNT roster.
Jill Ellis rotates and tinkers
The U.S. demolished Thailand with a mostly first-choice starting 11. In a comfortable position atop the group, with a place in the knockout rounds all but clinched, U.S. coach Jill Ellis made seven changes to her lineup for the Chile match.
Lloyd, Christen Press, Mal Pugh, Morgan Brian, Ali Krieger, Tierna Davidson and Becky Sauerbrunn came in.
Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis, Kelley O’Hara and Crystal Dunn dropped to the bench.
The changes worked as planned. Lloyd kept rolling. The result was never in doubt. Everybody is happy. With Jessica McDonald, Allie Long and Emily Sonnett entering as second-half subs, all American outfield players have now gotten game time. The ones who’ll be counted on in the knockout rounds are well-rested.
Ellis and the U.S. also piloted a few tactical wrinkles. Krieger and Davidson sometimes played as “inverted” fullbacks, coming inside to help the U.S. circulate possession while central midfielders provided width:
The Americans pinned Chile in its defensive third and thoroughly controlled the match, even if they only put three past Endler. Their first two games in France couldn’t have gone much better.
Alyssa Naeher’s first shaky moment
If there was one worrying moment, it was a Chile free kick midway through the first half. It will be forgotten thanks to an offside flag. But Alyssa Naeher, long considered one of the USWNT’s few potential weaknesses, flapped at the ball as she rushed off her line, an offside Chilean attacker bearing down on her:
That and Lindsey Horan’s yellow card – which means a second in any of the next three games would earn her a suspension – were just about the only negatives for the U.S.
U.S. fans take over Paris
For the second time in six days, the U.S. might as well have been playing at home away from home. Tens of thousands of Americans descended on Paris. Thousands marched through the streets to Parc des Princes:
The 48,583-seat stadium was full of red, white and blue. And many of those same fans will be hoping to be back in the capital for a quarterfinal – possibly against the hosts.
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports: