Given the low expectations for Chile entering this tournament, and the eerily similar halftime score, it seemed like the USWNT was on pace to thrash yet another opponent in the group stages of the women’s World Cup. But, as outlined in Lauren Theisen’s tournament preview, the major difference between Thailand and Chile was the fact that the South American underdogs were fielding arguably the best goalkeeper in the world with Christiane Endler.
As far as Endler and Chile’s back line were concerned, the offense that the United States brought to the second half wasn’t much different from what it was in the first half. A fourth goal seemed like an inevitability as each wave of offense seemed to chip away at a defense that has already displayed its vulnerabilities. But that’s where Endler came in. Whenever the USWNT seemed in prime position to score, the Chilean goalkeeper would show off her incredible reflexes, save the shot, and leave at least one American on the field stunned that the ball had not gone into the net.
Endler’s first call to action came less than 10 minutes into the second half, when Christen Press found Lindsey Horan wide open in the middle of the penalty box. Horan seemed to have her team’s fourth goal gifted to her, but a quick kick save from Endler stopped that from happening.
It became clear that Endler’s presence alone started impacting the way the USWNT approached Chile’s goal, leading to a variety of small saves and disruptions by the Chilean keeper that Fox did not deem worthy of a highlight clip. But who needs that when you’ve got an immediate frontrunner for the tournament’s best save?
At that point, the United States’ confidence in front of goal had almost faded entirely. It got so bad that even when a clinical Carly Lloyd was getting ready to complete her hat-trick on a dubiously-awarded penalty, she ended up firing the shot wide—the kinda shit that happens when you believe the keeper you’re facing has hacked into your thoughts and knows your every move.
Like any athlete, Endler likely would have preferred to take away some points from Sunday’s game over having some jaw-dropping highlights. But on an international stage against one of the best teams in the world, sometimes you’ve just got to take the small victories—like establishing yourself as the best women’s goalkeeper on the planet.