Chile Goalkeeper Equal to the Task, if Not to the Team

Chile Goalkeeper Equal to the Task, if Not to the Team

It was obvious, almost immediately, that this was not going to be a contest in any meaningful sense of the term, other than between the American forward line and the 27-year-old from Hijuelas that stood in its way. More than the sophistication and the purpose, it was the intensity with which the United States played that Chile simply could not handle, the coldblooded ruthlessness with which Ellis’s players seized on mistakes, pried open gaps, exploited weaknesses. By the end, Chile had mustered one shot on goal. The U.S. could boast 26.

Three of them — two from Lloyd, one from Julie Ertz, all in the first half — found their way past Endler. McDonald hit the post, Lloyd hit the bar. That there were not more goals, that this did not turn into another massacre, the sort that prompts questions about the value and the morals of running up the score, is down, almost exclusively, to Endler.

Almost everything the most devastating attack in this tournament threw at her, she handled. Ellis described it as a “wonderful statement” about the standard of goalkeeping; more than that, it was powerful proof of just how important having a world-class goalkeeper can be. “A player like that can always keep a team in the mix,” Ellis said.

After each of the United States goals, Endler called her teammates together for a huddle on the edge of Chile’s box. She issued instructions, offered encouragement, perhaps listed a few complaints. She wanted them to help her as much as they could.

They did not let her down; Lloyd made a point of congratulating her opponents on their performance, their spirit. The 3-0 score, given the disparity in resources, will count as something of a triumph for Chile; victory against Thailand in its final game could yet bring a place in the last 16. Should that happen, should Chile exceed all expectations, it will be down, in no small part, to Endler, to all of the work she has put in, to all of the study, all of the training, all of the intuition, and all of the reflexes: everything that went into this performance, everything that went into that save, all of the unseen work that makes up a masterpiece.

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