The U.S. Men’s National Team continues its preparations for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup when it takes on 13th ranked Chile on Tuesday, March 26 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas (7:55 p.m. ET; ESPN2, UniMas, UDN).
Here are five things to know about Chile:
While they haven’t had the historical success like a few powerhouses in South America, Chile’s nine FIFA World Cup appearances rank them fourth all-time in CONMEBOL, sitting only behind the continent’s three World Cup winning nations: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Chile’s pinnacle performance came when they hosted the 1962 FIFA World Cup, driving to the semifinals where they fell to eventual champions Brazil before finishing in third place.
Chile are currently back-to-back defending champions of Copa América, winning their first continental title on home soil in 2015, before following up by winning the Copa América Centenario in the United States a year later.
Here and Now
Chile narrowly missed out on qualification to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, coming up short on the last day of CONMEBOL’s unforgiving process. Since that disappointment, La Roja has come under management of head coach Reinaldo Rueda, who famously led Honduras to qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a little help from Jonathan Bornstein and the USA [WATCH]. Rueda also previously managed his home country of Colombia (2004-06) and Ecuador (2010-14).
On the job for a year, Rueda has been tasked with incorporating some of Chile’s young and upcoming talent alongside a strong base of veterans, including all-time leading scorer Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United; pictured right), midfielder Arturo Vidal (Barcelona) and defender Gary Medel (Besiktas).
Chile is using this month’s matches will use this month’s matches against Mexico (3-1 loss on Friday in San Diego) and the United States (March 26 in Houston) as part of its preparation for this summer’s Copa América in Brazil, where they will face guests Japan, Ecuador and Uruguay in the group stage.
All-Time Series: USA vs. Chile
The USA and Chile’s first meeting came in a wild encounter during the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Played four days after the MNT’s historic 1-0 defeat of England, the U.S. scored two quick goals after halftime to bring things level at 2-2 before succumbing to a 5-2 defeat.
The two nations have played a total of 10 times since 1950, with the USA trailing the all-time series with a 3-5-2 record. The match in Houston marks the first between the two nations since 2015 (2-3 loss in Rancagua, Chile) and first on U.S. soil since 2011 (1-1 draw in Carson, Calif.).
Raul Rueda named a 24-player roster for this month’s matches against Mexico and the United States. The squad is headlined by four players that have over 100 caps: defenders Mauricio Isla, Gonzalo Jara and Gary Medel (pictured right) and midfielder Arturo Vidal (pictured left ).
Additionally, Colorado Rapids striker Diego Rubio is also part of the roster.
Check out the full squad below:
Goalkeepers (3): Gabriel Arias (Racing/ARG; 4/0), Brayan Cortés (Colo-Colo; 2/0), Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon Town/ENG; 0/0)
Defenders (9): Paulo Díaz (Al-Ahli/KSA; 16/0), Mauricio Isla (Fenerbahçe/TUR; 106/4), Gonzalo Jara (Estudiantes La Plata/ARG; 111/3), Igor Lichnovsky (Cruz Azul/MEX; 5/0), Guillermo Maripán (Deportivo Alavés/ESP; 14/2), Gary Medel (Besiktas/TUR; 117/7), Eugenio Mena (Racing/ARG; 56/3), Óscar Opazo (Colo-Colo; 5/0), Sebastián Vegas (Morelia/MEX; 4/1)
Midfielders (8): Charles Aránguiz (Bayer Leverkusen/GER; 68/7), Pablo Hernández (Independiente/ARG; 26/3), Jimmy Martínez (Universidad de Chile; 3/0), Jean Meneses (Club León/MEX; 0/0), Esteban Pavez (Colo-Colo; 3/0), Erick Pulgar (Bologna/ITA; 14/0), Diego Valdés (Santos Laguna/MEX; 9/1), Arturo Vidal (Barcelona/ESP; 106/26)
Forwards (4): Nicolás Castillo (Club América/MEX; 19/4), Felipe Mora (Pumas UNAM/MEX; 3/0), Iván Morales (Colo-Colo; 1/0), Diego Rubio (Colorado Rapids/USA; 4/0)
Chile: The Country
Located on the west coast of South America, Chile is a distinctively long country, stretching 2,670 miles from the continent’s midway point all the way to its southern tip. The widest portion of the country is only 217 miles, which means Chileans are never too far from either the Andes mountains or Pacific Ocean. Chile shares a long eastern border with Argentina, and also touches Bolivia (northeast) and Peru (north).
With 17.5 million people, Chile is the sixth most populous country on the continent. The country’s flag looks distinctively similar to that of the state of Texas, while the team’s nickname of “La Roja” is derived from the main color of their home jersey, red.Read more
With nearly 700 official matches in the books against 97 different opponents since the U.S. Men’s National Team first started playing in 1916, the MNT has accumulated a rich history of dramatic results, intriguing story lines and interesting anecdotes.
Ahead of Tuesday’s match against Chile (7:55 p.m. ET; ESPN2, UniMas and UDN), here are three tidbits of the MNT’s history against La Roja:
Wynalda Joins Rare Company With Copa ’95 Brace
While the 3-0 win against Argentina is the signature victory of the USA’s fourth-place finish at Copa América 1995 in Uruguay, the team’s success in that tournament started with the opening 2-1 win against Chile.
Newly equipped with a shaved head, lead MNT striker Eric Wynalda registered both goals – making a near post-run to re-direct now-MNT General Manager Earnie Stewart’s cross from the right in the 14th minute before swerving home one of his patented free kicks six minutes later.
Wynalda’s brace was historic for two reasons:
- He is one of two MNT players to score two goals in a match on South American soil. The other was Bert Patenaude, who registered a hat trick in a 3-0 win against Paraguay during the inaugural 1930 FIFA World Cup, also in Uruguay.
- More impressive, the two goals, plus the one he scored days later in a 3-0 win against Argentina, played a part in the striker becoming the only player to tally for the MNT on five different continents – North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Quite a feat!
Balboa’s (Second) 100 Cap Milestone
The match was historic for another reason that wasn’t recognized as such at the time. Prior to the USA heading to South America for the tournament, long-time defender Marcelo Balboa became the first MNT player to earn 100 caps when he appeared in a 3-2 win against Nigeria on June 11, 1995 in Foxborough, Mass.
Or so he thought…
A few years later, U.S. Soccer was prompted by FIFA to revise the cap numbers of players who had represented the USA in games that were not deemed official senior team matches. This caused Balboa to lose three MNT caps, meaning his actual 100th game came in the 2-1 win against Chile on July 8, 1995.
Balboa, who finished his international career with 127 caps in 2000, remained the first MNT player to hit the century mark.
Three Debuts Against Chile
In more recent times, current MNT players Sean Johnson, Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes received their international debuts against Chile.
On Jan. 22, 2011, Johnson entered for Nick Rimando at halftime of a 1-1 draw with Chile at the recently renamed Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. [HIGHLIGHTS]
The USA’s most recent match on South American soil saw the now-Columbus Crew duo come off the bench in the 3-2 defeat, with Trapp replacing Mix Diskerud in the 60th minute and Zardes entering for Clint Dempsey in the 68th. [HIGHLIGHTS]