USWNT Dominate New Zealand 4-0 in St. Louis

uswnt v new zealand

By MC Bousquette
Staff Writer

The US defeated New Zealand in the first of seven friendly matches for the US Women’s National Team before the World Cup.

Though New Zealand are a young, energetic squad, their more aggressive second half couldn’t save them in a match offensively and defensively dominated by the United States.

Meghan Klingenberg scored early in the first half and the far more aggressive second half saw three goals from the United States: one from Lori Chalupny, another from Julie Johnston, and the fourth of the game by Morgan Brian. 

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It appears that US Coach Jill Ellis has finally found a lineup she likes. The only difference from the team’s Algarve Cup final lineup is the presence of Megan Rapinoe at outside midfield in place of Morgan Brian. This marked Rapinoe’s 100th cap for the USWNT.

The match opened with a quick drive by the United States, but was shut down at the edge of the New Zealand box. An early opportunity came with Julie Johnston on a free kick, only to be grabbed from the air by New Zealand keeper Erin Nayler.

The US had a corner kick opportunity in the third minute which Rapinoe sent towards the near post but missed just wide behind the goal. The United States made an aggressive run into the box as Meghan Klingenberg sent the ball in from the left side, connecting with Carli Lloyd whose outside-foot tap to Alex Morgan was narrowly intercepted by the New Zealand defense.

Rapinoe returned with a dangerous cross in the 8th minute to Alex Morgan, ended in a squandered approach as Christen Press missed the open net shot high.

Amy Rodriguez sent a bullet of a shot directly into the crossbar in the 13th minute off a throw-in, resulting in a series of passes before New Zealand lost possession for a corner. A series of in and out of the box ended in a goal from outside the box by Klingenberg on a volley, putting the US on the scoreboard 1-0 in the 14th minute. Christen Press, just a minute later, sent a well-placed shot towards Nayler, who saved the attempt.

In the 24th minute, Rapinoe took a shot off a free kick from outside the box, but hit the New Zealand wall. New Zealand responded with one of their more promising drives of the half in the 25th minute with Hannah Wilkinson making it to the top of the US box before hitting the defense.

Amy Rodriguez sent a cross into the box in the 27th minute , but Alex Morgan’s run fell just shy of a connection. In the 31st minute, Christen Press hit Rapinoe on a serve, but Rapinoe mishandled the ball on her weak side and couldn’t bring it out of the air for a shot. A minute later, a Rapinoe to Lloyd to Morgan combination ended in a narrowly missed shot by Morgan over the crossbar. The pressure continued as a backheel pass from Rodriguez to Rapinoe ended with a chip into Nayler.

Wilkinson was awarded a throw-in in the 36th minute, but a softly lobbed, off-target shot ended in Solo touching the ball, providing New Zealand with a corner. The subsequent corner was crossed all the way across the goal and out of bounds.

In the 38th minute, Rapinoe connected with Rodriguez, who hit the goalpost in the upper left corner in a rocket of a shot.

An easy lofted shot from New Zealand in the 41st minute was easily saved by Solo as the United States reached the New Zealand box moments later.

Striker Sarah Gregorius sent the ball into the box in the 4rd, but was bounced back by Klingenberg as she cleared it out of bounds. The New Zealand throw-in was quickly intercepted by the US, as Carli Lloyd took a shot seconds later missing left. Alex Morgan returned to the box, taking a shot off her toe only to be called offsides as the half concluded.

The first half concluded at 1-0 after the United States hammered away at New Zealand, with nary an offensive drive of note from New Zealand, who recorded only one shot in the entire half.

New Zealand entered the second half with more of an aggressive intent, with a strong ball in off a corner in the 50th. A foul in the box resulted in a US free kick, and a response from the US offense into the New Zealand half.

Defender Abby Erceg served a ball into the US box as New Zealand was awarded a free kick off a handball call on Alex Morgan, but Solo grabbed the ball and ended the New Zealand drive.

Lauren Holiday passed to Rapinoe off a corner in the 55th, who sent a strong, on-target ball-in to the US front line, but the ball didn’t manage to find goal as Nayler was knocked on her back.

In the 56th minute, Tobin Heath came in for Christen Press, Lori Chalupny for Meghan Klingenberg, and Sydney Leroux for Amy Rodriguez.

Leroux immediately brought the ball into the box after her entry, sending the ball backward into Krieger, who mishandled the ball-in, narrowly missing Lauren Holiday’s arm. Holiday won the ball back in the 58th, connecting with Leroux whose run ended with a connection to Morgan, who missed far right.

In the 60th, Carli Lloyd delivered to Chalupny, who narrowly missed the goal to the left. The US repossessed the ball as Holiday laid a pass to Rapinoe, who almost caught Nayler headed in the wrong direction. Shortly thereafter, Holiday sent the ball in to Sydney Leroux, who missed the goal wide and right on a header.

New Zealand answered in the 63rd off a free kick, but Solo made a dynamic save to keep the score at 1-0.

As New Zealand continued their more aggressive half, the US and New Zealand had several back and forths, but few shots on goal until Jasmine Pereira took a shot directly into Solo, but was called offsides.

The United States then began a series of offenses in the 70th minute, but serves into the box by both Rapinoe and Ali Krieger were deflected away from goal by the New Zealand defense.

A shot from Morgan in the 71st, deflected by Nayler reached Leroux who narrowly missed making a solid shot on goal. Rapinoe, in the 72nd minute, slid in but narrowly missed the connection.

Abby Wambach entered the match for Alex Morgan in the 73rd minute.

Lori Chalupny, in the 76th minute, received a pass from Megan Rapinoe and executed a high shot directly into the goal, fooling both New Zealand’s defense and Nayler to bring the score to 2-0.

Julie Johnston, in the 78th minute, headed the free kick from Morgan Holiday perfectly into goal to bring the score to 3-0.

Morgan Brian entered the game in the 79th minute for Megan Rapinoe. Brian then, in the 81st minute, scored off a pass from Sydney Leroux to put the United States up 4-0.

Kelley O’Hara came in to relieve Ali Krieger in the 83rd. O’Hara’s cross in in the 85th minute was rescued by Nayler, just short of a successful goal.

A free kick in 86th minute from connected with Wambach who just missed wide and left on a header, as Johnston attempted to rescue it with a post-hitting volley.

In the 89th, Tobin Heath came off with a bloody nose after Erceg hit her in the face, but came back on moments later after Erceg successfully thwarted another Wambach header.

The two minutes of stoppage time were offensively dominated by the United States, as the match concluded with a final score of 4-0.

The United States played patiently throughout the match, taking the time to set up offensive combinations, avoiding overly optimistic long balls in favor of successful connections and smart attempts. The US improved progressively throughout the match, their second half form very much what they need in order to dominate the World Cup.

The US Women play next against Ireland on May 10th at 230pm EST in San Jose, California (Fox Sports 1).


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