It doesn’t happen often that the U.S. WNT faces a team it has never played before, but the two matches against Chile will be the first games between the countries in women’s soccer. Chile will be the 52nd country the U.S. women have faced in full international competition, and the fourth South American team, along with Brazil (35 games), Colombia (6) and Argentina (3). Here are five things to know about La Roja Femenina:
Chile Women's National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Christiane Endler (Paris Saint-Germain, France), 12-Natalia Campos (Universidad Catholica)
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Rocio Soto (Colo Colo), 3-Carla Guerrero (Rayo Vallecano, Spain), 14-Fernanda Pinilla (Cordoba, Spain), 15-Su Helen Galaz (Zaragoza, Spain), 17-Geraldine Leyton (Sporting Huelva, Spain), 18-Camila Saez (Rayo Vallecano, Spain)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 4-Lara, Francisca (Sevilla, Spain), 6-Claudia Soto (Grêmio Osasco Audax, Brazil), 8-Karen Araya (Sevilla, Spain), 11-Yesenia López (Sporting Huelva, Spain), 16-Ana Gutiérrez (Colo Colo)
FORWARDS (7): 7-Maria José Rojas (Orca Kamogawa FC, Japan), 9-Maryorie Hernández (Palestino), 10-Yanara Aedo (Valencia (Spain), 13-Bárbara Santibáñez (Sporting Huelva, Spain), 19-Javiera Grez (Curicó), 20-Daniela Zamora (U. de Chile), 21-Maria José Urrutia (Palestino)
First Time World Cup Participants
Next summer, Chile will participate in its first Women’s World Cup at the senior level. Chile was a surprise qualifier to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. La Roja Femenina finished second behind Brazil at the 2018 Copa América Femenina, which it hosted last April, to earn its first World Cup berth.
Road to France 2019
In the 2018 Copa América Femenina preliminary stage, Chile finished second in Group A behind Colombia to qualify for the four-team Final Stage. In Group A, Chile started with two 1-1 draws, against Paraguay and Colombia, then picked up a 1-0 victory vs. Uruguay and closed the group on a high note with a 5-0 win against Peru.
In the Final Stage group that featured Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia, Chile lost to Brazil, 3-1, to open the round-robin play, and then tied Colombia, 0-0, setting up a must-win match against Argentina to earn a berth to France. In that 4-0 victory, Chile delighted the packed house with three goals in the first half and one in second half stoppage time.
Endler Leading the Charge
One of the main reasons for Chile’s success at the Copa America was the play of their captain, 27-year-old goalkeeper Christiane Endler. The six-foot Endler, whose father is from Germany and whose mother is from Chile, holds both Chilean and German passports. She played college soccer in the USA at South Florida and currently plays for one of the world’s top clubs in Paris Saint-Germain. Endler also had several stints in England, with Everton and Chelsea, and in Spain with Valencia. With 58 international games on her resume, she is the most-capped player on the Chile roster.
Looking to the Future
Chile’s roster averages around 25-years-old, with no players over the age of 30. The group does have some experienced players with Endler leading the way along with defender Carla Guerrero, who has 55 caps and plays for Rayo Vallecano in Spain. Midfielder Francisca Lara, who plays for Sevilla in Spain, has 48 caps and 20 goals. Chile has 13 players playing club soccer outside of their home country, 10 in Spain, one in Japan, one in Brazil, and Endler in France.
Chile’s head coach since June of 2016, José Letelier, is the only person who has been a champion of the Copa Libertadores as player in 1991, he was a goalkeeper, and as a coach in the women's version in 2012. He played for Colo-Colo in the 1980s and early 90s and played in Mexico. As a coach, he managed Colo-Colo Femenino, winning 10 national titles and a Copa Libertadores Femenina in 2012.