United States blitz New Zealand again as World Cup quest heats up

United States blitz New Zealand again as World Cup quest heats up

United States blitz New Zealand again as World Cup quest heats up

  • USA Women beat Football Ferns 5-0 in friendly match at Eden Park
  • US sweep series to keep quest for third straight World Cup on track
New Zealand’s Ali Riley competes with the USA’s Ashley Hatch during the womens international friendly match won 5-0 by the USA at Eden Park.

The United States have outclassed the Football Ferns again, belting the Women’s World Cup co-hosts 5-0 to wrap-up their two-match tour of New Zealand and familiarise themselves with local conditions ahead of the World Cup in July.

Rose Lavelle wore the captain’s armband and netted twice in another impressive performance, with Ashley Hatch, Mallory Swanson and Taylor Kornieck joining her on the scoresheet. The US dominance was so strong that New Zealand failed to have a single shot on goal in the entire game compared to 22 shots for the visitors.

Despite playing football at Eden Park for the first time, the outing at New Zealand’s national stadium drew a crowd of 12,721, topping the 12,508 who turned out for Wednesday’s match at Sky Stadium in Wellington and setting a record for women’s football in the country.

While the US were able to select a full-strength side as their domestic league is in off season, New Zealand were denied the same as the friendlies fall outside the FIFA window for international matches.

The gulf in class was evident from the first whistle on Saturday, even as the US lined up without regular captain Alex Morgan, who withdrew with lower leg tightness.

Hatch produced a pinpoint first-time side-foot finish from Trinity Rodman’s cross to begin the rout on 22 minutes. The US were denied a cast-iron penalty soon after when first-half substitute Ashleigh Ward rugby-tackled Rodman, the daughter of US basketball great Dennis Rodman, on the edge of the box.

Lavelle made up for the missed opportunity a minute later, volleying home a dipping cross from Sofia Huerta. Ward was in the thick of things again shortly after the break, mis-controlling a ball in the box which fell to Swanson, who smashed home an easy chance.

Lavelle doubled up on 74 minutes, directing Lynn Williams’ cross past busy New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler, before turning provider on 80 minutes, sending in a corner which Kornieck buried from the back post.

The result was another brutal reality check for the Football Ferns, the world No 24, ahead of the Women’s World Cup beginning in July.

Unlike co-hosts Australia, New Zealand are not contenders for the title. They have yet to win a match at the World Cup in six tournaments and hope to break that duck and perhaps qualify for the knockout rounds.

Not helping the cause, the Ferns’ coach Jitka Klimkova was forced to select an understrength team as the tour fell outside FIFA’s official international window. A number of the Kiwi players – including starter Paige Satchell – will instead compete for their A-League Women club Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the world No 1 Americans return home with their quest for a third straight Women’s World Cup title in 2023 off to a flying start, having notched a convincing 4-0 victory over the Ferns in game one on Wednesday.

There, cheered on by a raucous and record crowd, the Football Ferns had managed to keep the US scoreless until half-time only to succumb to the US side’s authority, as Swanson scored a double and Morgan and Williams also nabbed goals.

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