Football Ferns break NZ attendance record as USA dominate

New Zealand 0-5 United States of America

by Denise Duffy at Eden Park for Impetus (21/1/23)

Above: New Zealand’s Ali Riley wins a header against the USA’s Ashley Sanchez. Photo: NZ Football.

It was a historic day for women’s football in Aotearoa / New Zealand. For their second match against the USWNT, a record-breaking 12,721 people came to Auckland’s Eden Park to watch the Ferns. They got thumped by the world champions by a scoreline of five goals to nil.

“It’s so unique for New Zealand. We are so thankful that we can play in front of a home crowd that is so supportive. Knowing that we are playing against number one in the world, knowing that they are such a strong team.  I had goosebumps. When I could hear the fans  I knew was a huge motivation for our players to keep working hard, keep connecting, and keep looking for those little wins on the field,” said head Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková in the post-match media conference.

Above: The scene at Eden Park as New Zealand hosted the USWNT in front of a record crowd. Photo: Denise Duffy for Impetus.

In this non-FIFA window, club teams were not obliged to release their athletes. It left the Kiwis without many of their stalwarts.

The Ferns’ depleted squad was no match for the likes of speedy and talented Trinity Rodman, Rose Lavelle, and Mallory Swanson. Forward Ashley Hatch, who replaced Alex Morgan just before kickoff, got on the board first at the 22nd minute with a textured assist from Trinity Rodman.

Lavelle, who was captain for the day, added two goals herself, one in each half. Swanson continued her red-hot form with another one in the back of the net. Finally, Taylor Kornieck used her 6’1” frame, and went unmarked in the box to score a header from a corner.

Instead of focusing on the scoreline, the Ferns decided to make this campaign against the world’s number-one team as a way to connect with their domestic fans and build their team culture.

Above: New Zealand head coach Jitka Klimková and Anna Green speak to the media after the match. Photo: Denise Duffy for Impetus.

Speaking afterwards, Anna Green commented: “It’s always disappointing to lose five nil but we’re not going to dwell on that. And as a group it was about holding on to the positive and staying in touch with what our game plan was.

“It was trying to get better at every training session, every game, and every chance that we’re together. The beauty of this tour is that we’ve done that and we’ve done that with 10 to 12 people that might not normally be part of the squad. That’s something we should be proud of as a team and as a nation as well.”

Teams: NEW ZEALAND (4-4-2): Nayler, Riley, Rennie, Chance, Satchell, Cleverley, Anton, Ally Green, Jale, Collins, Anna Green. Substitutes: Rolston, Wisnewski, Barry, Ward, O’Brien

UNITED STATES (4-3-3): Murphy, Sanchez, Cook, Huerta, Swanson, Girma, Morgan, Lavelle, Sullivan, Dunn, Rodman. Substitutes: Williams, Mewis, Korniack, Purce, Sonnett

Scorers: Hatch 22’, Lavelle 38’, 74’. Swanson 53’, Kornieck 79’.

Referee: Lara Lee.

Attendance: 12,721.

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