As the debate over the team’s goals and celebrations against Thailand rages on, the U.S. has turned its attention squarely on its next opponent
The USWNT may have scored 13 goals on Tuesday night, but they still earned just three points.
That was the message head coach Jill Ellis delivered ahead of her team’s second World Cup game, which takes place on Sunday evening against Chile in Paris.
Ellis’s side were at their rampant best against Thailand in their World Cup opener, using a remarkable 10-goal second half to set an all-time tournament record for the highest margin of victory in any game.
Though the debate over her team’s astonishing goal total and exuberant celebrations rages on at home, Ellis made it clear that Tuesday night’s game is well and truly in her rear-view mirror.
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“The beauty of this tournament is, the game that you just played is irrelevant,” Ellis said at her pre-match press conference on Saturday.
“You can do a lot of breakdown on games you played, but the takeaways from games you’ve played has to be on what’s in front of you.
“I think that’s how it has to be in a tournament format. You can’t dwell on games.”
Though Ellis and her team aren’t dwelling on the Thailand result, there are plenty who still are. But the U.S. manager insists that her team isn’t getting caught up in the outside discussion as they retreat inside their so-called “bubble.”
“We want to move through the group stage and play good soccer and that’s really the focus,” Ellis said.
“The trappings of everything else is probably more for everybody externally to deal with but right now the focus has to be what we’re doing inside our bubble.”
One of the main decisions Ellis will have ahead of the game against Chile will be whether she wants to rotate her squad.
The U.S. is healthy and has had four full days of rest leading into the game against Chile. But after that they’ll have three days of rest before their group-stage finale against Sweden, and then similar amounts of down time between games when the tournament reaches the knockout stage.
Ellis was coy on her plans to introduce new players into her lineup, but said that she has faith in an experienced roster that has only two players – third-string goalkeeper Adrianna Franch and backup forward Jessica McDonald – who have fewer than 20 caps.
“In terms of playing time I think most of the players who are on this roster, maybe bar a couple, have had a lot of significant minutes, so having that trust and having that faith in those players, for a coach it certainly strengthens you,” Ellis said.
Ellis is right to trust her team’s bench players, particularly her attackers, after two of her three subs found the back of the net against Thailand.
“I think what’s so special about this team is the depth,” midfielder Lindsey Horan said.
“I think any player that comes off the bench is bringing something new and different and amazing to our team and I think you saw that the other night.”
Regardless of whom the U.S. plays against Chile, anything other than a second straight win will be a shocking result. The team will have bigger fish to fry as the World Cup moves on, but it’s not going to get caught up in anything other than the next game.