USWNT Find Their Mojo Again

United States of America 6-1 New Zealand

By Kris Goman

Pictured above: Carli Lloyd shoots under pressure from Abby Erceg (Getty Images).

We come into this match with both teams needing the win after losses in their first group games.

The big surprise of course was the USWNT loss to Sweden. Not so much the loss but being beaten 3-0. A huge reality check for the World Cup winners looking to break the hoodoo of no team ever winning the Olympics after winning the World Cup.

They managed to turn their misfortune around in this match but not everything went the way of the Americans. The 6-1 scoreline looks like a thrashing and it was but the goal conceded that showed up their defence and two of the six goals were unfortunate own goals. The win moves them to second place in Group G with Australia to face on Tuesday.

Julie Ertz brings the ball through the centre and sends it up to Carli Lloyd, who in turn passes to Rose Lavelle but her shot is deflected.

On the rebound, Betsy Hassett clears to Liv Chance who puts a cross in that could have gone top bins but just goes out. Good to see NZ stepping up in attack early. Soon after Hannah Wilkinson shoots and gets the first shot on target and makes Alyssa Naeher dive to save.

We’re soon back up the other end and Megan Rapinoe takes a long shot out of the box that skims the crossbar.

Back in the USA box and Abby Erceg clears a tackle to Heath who passes to Lavelle who finds herself in the clear with just the keeper to beat. Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, she slots it past the keeper to the near post for the USWNT’s first goal of the tournament. 1-0 USA and you can tell the team breathe a sigh of relief.

Above: Julie Ertz in possession for the USA. Photo: Getty Images.

Lloyd trips up Ria Percival and NZ get a free kick. When taken it finds Erceg offside. Lloyd gets a flick over Anna Leat, the NZ keeper, but she’s well offside so no goal.

Erceg switches the play out to CJ Bott and she does a lovely cross into the box which is headed by Wilkinson and goes just wide of goal to the left, keeping Naeher on her toes.

A bit of US play in and out of the box eventually gets to Lavelle in the box but her shot goes into the side of the net. Rapinoe’s corner is kicked straight out by NZ. The next corner is played short and Ertz takes out Percival and the Football Ferns get a free kick. Crystal Dunn gets the ball in the left corner and passes back to Heath who kicks it straight past Leat into goal. However it is disallowed as Dunn was offside. We’re still at 1-0.

Then Lloyd gets the ball from Ertz but she’s obviously offside. They don’t call it and she cuts back to Rapinoe who scores but finally the flag goes up and the goal is cancelled.
USA is applying all the pressure now but the Kiwis are keeping a high line to keep them honest. Possession has been around 60% to USA.

Lavelle kicks the ball across the box to The Great Horan but she is called offside in a very close call this time. Heath gets a run down the right and takes a shot from outside the box, not risking yet another offside but Leat dives and saves it, in the save of the match.

NZ switches play out to Bott who sends a long ball into the NZ box. Wilkinson heads it back across goal and it skims the far post to go out on the right in a very near miss just before half time. So close to being one all and Bott has been very effective with these pin point long balls.

In stoppage time, there’s a corner that Rapinoe directs to the back post. Ertz heads it back across to Horan who heads it to the right of Leat and its 2-0 and Horan scores in her 100th match for the USWNT. One more corner is cleared before the half time whistle goes.

Above: Megan Rapinoe celebrates with Lindsey Horan after the number nine scored for the USA on her hundredth appearance. Photo: The Guardian

Despite the 61% possession of the USWNT,  NZ had three shots with one on target to the US’ five shots with two on target, which were both goals. The five corners to nil probably tell the tale a bit clearer. The USA are looking dominant. The Football Ferns; high line has been successful in stopping three goals. The Kiwis had three good shots so it’s not beyond them to score here.

In the second half,  USA continue to apply pressure with the overwhelming bulk of possession and territory. Lloyd takes Percival out again with a knee to the ribs in a challenge. It wasn’t intentional but it looked like it hurt.

Horan makes a couple of runs into the box that are cleared. Dunn is working the left side and gets the ball to Ertz who flicks it through to Lloyd. Erceg tackles just in time to put her off her shot and it hits the side netting.

A ball into the box from Horan to Lloyd has her heading it towards goal when Erceg tries to head the ball over the goal but only heads it over Leat and puts it into the back of the net out of reach of Leat. A disastrous own goal for Erceg and NZ. 3-0 USA.

NZ’s first corner is forced by captain Ali Riley. It comes to naught. First substitution sees Chance go off, who’s had a fairly quiet game, to be replaced by Paige Satchell, who could shake things up.

The ball comes up the centre and Wilkinson and Tierna Davidson go for it. Davidson is shouldered off the ball and USA get the foul as Wilkinson shoots into Naeher’s arms.

The USA do a couple of substitutions with Rapinoe being replaced by Christen Press and Lavelle coming off for Sam Mewis. Lloyd takes the captain’s armband from Rapinoe.

Ertz rockets a long ball from the centre circle to Press in the box but she can’t control it and it’s cleared.

Satchell dodges a few defenders to dribble it into the box. She’s beaten Abby Dahlkemper and draws Naeher out before passing back to Betsy Hassett who thumps the ball into an empty goal. Hassett gets the glory but Satchell created the magic. 3-1 USA.

Above: New Zealand goal scorer Betsy Hassett on the ball. Photo: Getty Images.

At 73 minutes, Lloyd is off and Alex Morgan comes on and takes over the captaincy.
Press gets a ball down the left and centres to Horan in the box. The shot goes wide and Press was offside anyway.

At 79 minutes, Daisy Cleverley comes off for NZ and is replaced with Gabi Rennie, the goal scorer against Australia. The game is still within reach for NZ.

Ertz brings the ball down the right side and crosses straight to Press at the top of the box who controls and shoots in a fluid movement and puts it straight in the back of the net in a class goal. Suddenly, the game is no longer within reach for NZ. 4-1 USA.

NZ haven’t given up hope yet and are still pressing. Katie Bowen wins a corner. Percival takes it and sends it to the back post but it’s cleared with no major threat.

More substitutions and for the USWNT, Dunn is off with Casey Krueger on and Horan is off with Catarina Macario coming on. At 86 minutes, Hassett is off for NZ, replaced by Annalie Longo.

Press gets the ball in the left of the box and squares it across to Morgan who kicks it straight in for another goal for the USWNT. Press now has a goal and an assist and the floodgates have opened. 5-1 USA.

In stoppage time, Press takes a shot from the top of the box that floats clear of goal. Mewis sends a long ball across from the right to Press in the box. She shoots and Bott deflects the ball into the goal in the last seconds of the game to make it 6-1 USA and send Australia to third place in the table. This is a shame as Bott has had a really good game and is now clearly distraught.

USA celebrate their win and a few team mates catch up with hugs. Dunn and Rapinoe are hugging and chatting with Tom Sermani who was the USWNT coach when they first made the team.

USA have their mojo back and get the three points and second place on the table. They play Australia next and will be looking to consolidate this win. Given the current state of Group F, it’s likely both Australia and USA will go through to the knockout stage of the tournament regardless of the result unless Zambia beat Brazil or China beats the Netherlands. On current form, this is unlikely but not impossible. And goal difference can still be critical.

New Zealand play Sweden next. It’s hard to see them winning that match but if they did it would come down to goal difference and today’s blow out makes it very difficult for them to get ahead of Australia into third place.

Teams: USA: Naeher, Dunn, Davidson, Dalkemper, Sonnet, Horan, Ertz, Lavelle, Rapinoe (C), Lloyd, Heath. Substitutes: S. Mewis, Sauerbrunn, Press, Morgan, Macario, Kruger, Campbell.

Scorers: Lavelle 9, Horan 45, Erceg OG 63, Press 80, Morgan 88, Bott OG 90+3

NEW ZEALAND: Leat, Bott, Erceg, Moore, Riley, Percival, Bowen, Cleverley, Chance, Hassett, Wilkinson. Substitutes: Naylor, Green, Bunge, Rennie, Longo, Satchell, Rolston.

Scorer: Hassett 72.

Referee: Stéphanie Frappart (FRA)

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