Two games were played at the Parc des Princes on Sunday evening. 


One of them saw a dominant team take the sensible decision to rest a swathe of starting players in a theoretically easier game, giving rotation players a chance to shine and – in USWNT coach Jill Ellis' words – 'get hot'. 


They ran the game from start to finish, had killed the game off when they went into the half-time break up 3-0, and cruised from there. They could've scored more, but for a few fantastic saves from the goalkeeper and one curling shot finding woodwork rather than net. 

The other game saw a presumptive favourite for a World Cup throw away the momentum they'd gained in a record-breaking opening match by completely changing their lineup. They decided not to take the chance to let their best XI – or something close to it – settle into tournament mode before a tough game against Sweden on Thursday. 


They gave World Cup debuts to players like they were going out of style. They denied their front line the chance to keep up their hot streak from five days previous. They treated the match like it was won before they started. 


It's obvious that both of these games are the USA's 3-0 win over Chile, right? Good. 


Narrative is a tricksy thing, always better retrofitted once you know the whole story. The fact is, both of the above narratives could be entirely true. They can exist simultaneously. This is a results-driven business, and our analysis of the game often reflects that. 

Claudia Endler

If the likes of Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe come into the Sweden game fresh and firing from their extra bit of rest, Ellis did the right thing and will be praised. If it takes a little while for things to coalesce on Thursday and Sweden get the jump, the decisions made in Paris will be viewed in an entirely different light. 


"A lot of this is about building momentum," Ellis said in the immediate aftermath of her side's World Cup record 13-0 win over Thailand. "The biggest takeaway is having players feeling good about the game. There's always going to be little things that players want to refine, but it's about building momentum."


Fast forward five days, and Ellis changed all but three of her outfield starters for Sunday evening's second group game against Chile. Misdirection? A low opinion of the South American side? Wanting to, in her words, "get as many [players] hot as you can, feeling good, feeling the back of the net"? 


She got the latter, certainly. Julie Ertz, one of the five outfield starters who failed to get on the scoresheet against Thailand, had scored within the opening half an hour. Carli Lloyd, who came off the bench for half an hour and one goal against Thailand, scored twice in the first half. 


Tierna Davidson, unused on Tuesday night, fired in inch-perfect set piece after inch-perfect set piece. Just 20 years old, at her first World Cup, she looked every bit the seasoned veteran. 

USA v Chile: Group F - 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France

So we return to momentum. Whatever that is. The US have it, in that they've just won two games in a row with utterly dominant performances. They don't have it, in that the team that won the second game was almost entirely different to the team which won the first. 


Speaking directly after the game, Ellis justified her decision in terms of momentum, saying: "You can talk about the football on the pitch, but how a team feels is important too and that's what I think today was about. 


"The players who didn't play today understood, and were excited for the players who were on the pitch. In terms of building momentum, now every single one of them's got the butterflies out of the way and is ready to take it on – and they know the trust is there."

There's a whole world of hot takes out there, all of them as completely uninformed as each other. Until the Sweden game – maybe even until a potential quarter-final against France – we won't know how good this US team actually is. How their mettle is. How they perform when they're given one or two chances a game to break open a defence, rather than the number they got against Thailand and Chile. 


Schrodinger's game, this. We won't know which version we just watched for a week or two yet.