World Cup 2014: Chile national soccer team guide
Make it two in a row for Chile. La Roja are heading to their second straight World Cup after a qualifying campaign that had its fare shares of highs and lows, including a coaching change, but their recent form seems to indicate that they are peaking at just the right time.
WHO GOT THEM THERE
Alexis Sánchez, F, Barcelona: A technically gifted winger who is usually tasked with leading the attack, Sánchez provided four goals in qualifying and was a constant threat for a Chile side that had the second-highest scoring offense in CONMEBOL this cycle.
Arturo Vidal, M, Juventus: The 26-year-old is a staple in Chile’s midfield and one that can contribute on both sides off the ball, a trait that helped out the Chileans in qualifying. His versatility is an added bonus as is his veteran leadership.
Claudio Bravo, GK, Real Sociedad: Bravo is as experienced a player as Chile currently has and that is why he is the team’s captain. If not for the seasoned goalkeeper, Chile likely would have surrendered more than the 25 goals they conceded in qualifying.
Jorge Sampaoli’s first international foray has so far proved to be a successful one. Sampaoli was hired on Dec. 3, 2012 after Chile sustained some mixed results in qualifying, and he led La Roja to an impressive 5-1-1- record in their final seven qualifiers to claim third place in CONMEBOL.
A former defensive midfielder, Sampaoli had coached various clubs throughout South America before being chosen as Chile’s manager. He was most recently at the helm of Universidad de Chile, but has also coached Ecuadorian side Emelec and Peruvian outfit Sporting Cristal.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
WCQ record: 9-6-1, 28 pts. / 29 GF, 25 GA (3rd place in South America)
After a topsy-turvy start, Chile finished qualifying in impressive form. They scored more goals in South America than anyone not named Argentina, but their defense was a bit suspect and could use some more fine-tuning ahead of their trip to Brazil.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
The Chileans have reached consecutive World Cups for the first time since doing so back in 1962 – when they earned third place on home soil – and 1966. They enjoyed a strong performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, reaching the round of 16, and they could be poised to surpass that achievement when they take their relatively short trip to Brazil next summer.
Chile hold a slight advantage over the US men’s national team with a 4-3-2 overall record. They are winless in each of the two nations’ last four meetings (0-3-1). … The last encounter between the two came in January 2011, a 1-1 draw in Carson, Calif. … Former Colorado Rapids midfielder Kevin Harbottle is from Chile and earned one cap back in 2010. … Former Chile national team player Marcelo Vega spent a couple of the last years of his career with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and San Jose Earthquakes back in the late 1990s. … Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons playing for Chilean club Municipal Iquique.