The USWNT Crushed Chile, Not That Anyone Got To See It

The United States is a big country. It spans four time zones just in the contiguous continental landscape. So it can understandably be a tough task to schedule a weekday match that kicks off at a time suitable for the entire country. Unfortunately, the USWNT vs Chile match on Friday night didn’t really kick off at a time suitable for any part of the country — except maybe Hawaii.

The U.S. women have a fairly large and diverse fan base. But a major portion of its fans is young girls and boys. Unfortunately for them, few got to stay up to watch the USWNT vs Chile match, which the top-ranked team in the world won 3-0.

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Friday’s game was slated to kick off at 8 p.m. local time in Carson, California, in the first of two friendlies against Chile to get ready for Concacaf World Cup qualifying. This is already late for kids on the West Coast, but it’s obscenely late for those on the East Coast, most of whom probably didn’t bother staying away for the match. 

To make matters worse, the match didn’t actually kick off until 8:35 p.m. local time. And on top of that, the match wasn’t on ESPN2 as it was scheduled for most of the game, meaning even more people couldn’t see the game. 

Well done ESPN and U.S. Soccer. Way to screw over your fan base with a late start and obscure television channels.

While I can’t say why the match didn’t kick off until 8:35 p.m. despite a designated 8 p.m. start, part of the delay was probably due to the fact that no major soccer game in the United States ever starts on time. Seriously, take a look at the clock the next time a televised MLS game kicks off — I can almost guarantee it will be at least 10-15 minutes past the designated kickoff time. In stark contrast, matches in Europe almost always start right at the stated start time. 

The match was supposed to be on ESPN2, but a U.S. Open match was still taking place on that channel. Tennis matches are notoriously difficult to determine the length of, so ESPN and U.S. Soccer did a poor job of placing the start time after a tennis match. Unfortunately, ESPNews was supposed to be the next channel up for the match, but a WNBA match was running long so that was a no go as well. 

So the USWNT vs Chile match, which kicked off 35 minutes late, started on WatchESPN, only available to those with streaming devices. Finally, with a couple minutes left in the first half, it became available on ESPNews, by which time the match was already 2-0. But ESPNews isn't available in nearly as many homes as ESPN2.

The U.S. Open match finished around halftime. The USWNT vs Chile match finally switched to ESPN2 in the 56th minute, about 110 minutes late, at 9:50 p.m. locally — 12:50 a.m. on the East Coast.

As for the game itself? The U.S. women dominated, as was to be expected. Chile is ranked 39, which is a fair test compared to most of the opponents the U.S. will face in Concacaf World Cup qualifying, but not really a test for the defending World Cup champion. 

The U.S. went ahead in the eighth minute through Tierna Davidson, who got her head to a corner kick, which bounced off about three other Chileans before going into the back of the net. It was the first international goal for the 19-year-old Stanford defender. I wonder if she was disappointed she missed the 13th-ranked Cardinal football team's season opener against San Diego State on Friday night, which actually finished well before this match.   

An own goal off Chile’s Carla Guerrero gave the U.S. a 2-0 advantage in the 32nd minute and the home side though it had gone up 3-0 right before halftime with a penalty kick scored by Christen Press. In a baffling sequence, the referee waived off the penalty because of encroachment by Crystal Dunn and Alex Morgan. Chilean players also entered the 18-yard box before the shot was taken, but the penalty was bizarrely wiped off and not retaken. 

The USWNT Twitter team was as confused as USWNT fans were trying to find the match on TV.

The second half saw stars Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Rose Lavelle taken off and immediately there was more controversy as a shot from Carli Lloyd caromed off the cross bar crossed the goal line, but without goal-line technology, the referee allowed play to continue.

Lloyd then had a headed goal disallowed for what may have been a foul by Press on the goalkeeper. Maybe?

It was at this point that the match, in the 56th minute, finally moved to ESPN2. In a rare piece of good news for U.S. fans on the night, Press scored moments later to make it 3-0. This time, believe it or not, it counted, giving her 45 goals on her 100th appearance.

Despite about 18 trillion shots from Carli Lloyd, the USWNT couldn't find the back of the net the rest of the match and it ended 3-0 at 10:23 p.m. locally, 1:23 a.m. on the East Coast. 

We'll get one more USWNT vs Chile friendly on Tuesday, but the timing won't be much better. While kickoff from Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, is slated for an hour earlier at 7 p.m. PST, that's still 10 p.m. ET — and this game is on a week night. 

But hey, who cares about going to bed for school or work when you've got the world's best soccer team to watch?

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