The United States women’s national team opened 2023 with a 4-0 win over New Zealand on Wednesday in Wellington.
Mallory Swanson (Ne Bough) scored the opening goal seven minutes into the first half, revitalizing an American attack that had looked mostly absent in the first 45 minutes. Swanson added a second goal nine minutes later, W.J Alex Morgan And Lynn Williams I also got a scoreboard.
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The teams will meet again on Saturday in Oakland as the Americans take advantage of the trip to prepare on and off the field for this summer’s Women’s World Cup. The United States will play the entire group stage of the World Cup in New Zealand and in the two stadiums that will be used this week, giving the two-time champions a dry experience of what this tournament will look like.
1. The United States still needs to put its collective foot on gas
Urgency, urgency, urgency. Little has changed in the collegiate style of the United States: Americans are best when they play at a faster pace. One of the main successes in recent years has been high pressing that has forced opponents to turn the ball around in dangerous situations.
Wednesday’s first half was a mess from the United States, who systematically attempted to smash a compact New Zealand 4-4-2 by playing centre. The result was a lot of centre-back Becky Sauerbrunn And Naomi Girma They play between each other, followed by unforced swings in the middle of the park. The saving grace for the United States is that New Zealand, who have lost many key players to matches played outside FIFA windows, have offered nothing going forward.
Super fitness and four substitutions to start the second half were part of why the floodgates opened. But the general urgency from the Americans was markedly different. swanson f Trinity Rodman They attacked the space on their flanks. Emily Fox And Sofia Huerta They are pushed up from their full back positions.
The United States decided to move the match to New Zealand. Why it took 45 minutes to do this remains a point for improvement.
2. Position No. 6 remains a mystery
the Julie Ertz– The size hole is still in place for the United States. Wednesday brought a different attempt at a solution. Taylor Cornick She made her first break for the United States, where she played at No. 6 It Andy Sullivan Mostly busy in 2022.
Kornieck plays at the top of the field for San Diego Wave FC, so the move was somewhat of a gamble. US national team coach Vlatko Andonovsky told an HBO Max broadcast during the pregame that Kornic provided “an opportunity for us to try something different” and try out unexpected moves.
The latter has not really happened. Lindsey Horan They often drop deep to create a double pivot and get the ball, but the Kornieck-Horan combination found little room to play in the first half, often being pulled wide in attempts to find space. Kornic was replaced by Sullivan at the start of the second half, when the game changed drastically.
Whether or not Kornieck is an answer in the role, her presence as a starter there on Wednesday suggests Andonovski has yet to settle on an answer in the position. Sam Covey is another less experienced option as well.
3. Lynn Williams is back in time
Len Williams returned to the field after nearly a year with a hamstring injury, entering Wednesday’s game in the 67th minute. Williams last played for the United States in February 2022 and did not play at all during the National Women’s Soccer League regular season. Traded from Kansas City Current to NJ/NY Gotham FC last week, on draft day.
The slim Williams provides the best defensive presence of any forward in the American squad. It changes the way a team defends from its highest point and allows for higher, more aggressive pressure. Williams returns just in time for an American team in need of that spark.
On Wednesday, she marked her comeback with a goal, too — and an impressive one. Seven minutes into the game, Williams adjusted her body in the air to head onto Rodman’s cross and generate enough power to comfortably beat the New Zealand goalkeeper. Erin Nayler.
The goal was an exclamation mark for Williams’ long-awaited comeback. Even in a crowded attacking pool, Williams delivers the two-way game Andonovski will need at the World Cup.
The best and worst performers
better: Rose Lavelle – Once again, Lavelle is still the (correct) American player capable of breaking lines against defensively disciplined opponents. In dribbling or late runs, Lavelle is the catalyst for this team. that helps the back? Come.
better: Mallory Swanson – A quiet first half gave way to two quick goals in the second half. For club or country, running against defenders in isolation is a recipe for success.
better: Margaret Pierce – The Americans’ dull first half was highlighted by Purce’s willingness to attack defenders 1-v-1. It was an encouraging return for the winger, who was left off the roster in October and November.
worst: Ashley Ward – I got out of position on a few occasions and got hit 1-v-1, especially in the second half.
worst: Nate Renee Even when the hosts defended well in the first half, they had no way forward.
worst: Grace Neville The United States found her most pleasant by deposing Neville on her wing.
Highlights and notable moments
In the first half, the USA dominated possession, but mostly in areas that did not pose a threat to the New Zealand defence.
Morgan, Swanson & Purce combined to complete 19 passes in the first half.
Six of his teammates completed at least 27 each. Sauerbrunn & Girma had 58 each. pic.twitter.com/3UGbLx22fm
– Paul Carr (@PaulCarr) January 18, 2023
Swanson scored the first two goals of the game in quick succession.
✌️ for @tweet
– United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) January 18, 2023
After the match: What the players/managers said
Lavelle USWNT: “We had to find the ball a little more between the seams, give it a little more in the middle so they fell apart and then find our wingers. The first half is tough for us, obviously some things have to be cleaned up, but a really good response.”
Williams from the USWNT: “It’s a great feeling, but I give it to my teammates – they’ve been there with me the whole way supporting me and telling me, ‘You got this, Lynn.'” “So it feels incredible.”
Swanson scored her fourth goal with the USA national team
Morgan scored her 120th international goal
– This was the largest crowd ever at a Ford Football Ferns home game with 12,508 fans in attendance
United State: The United States faces New Zealand in a friendly match again on January 20th, before playing in its first Sheriffs Cup match against Canada on February 16th.
New Zealand: After a friendly match against the United States, New Zealand faces Portugal in a friendly on February 17.