Top Stories

USWNT crushes New Zealand as home stretch before World Cup begins

Alex Morgan vs NZ by Jeff Curry USA TODAY
Photo by Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports


The U.S. Women’s National Team begin the home stretch to this summer’s Women’s World Cup in style.

In a confidence-boosting performance, the Americans rolled past New Zealand in front one of their largest-ever home crowds Saturday, surging late for a dominant 4-0 win at Busch Stadium in St. Louis before 35,817 fans.

Three goals in the span of 10 minutes sealed the match for the U.S. late after some 70 minutes of out-playing the Football Ferns with slick combination play and smart possession. It was perhaps the most complete team performance for the USWNT in several months and may mark a turning point in the team’s World Cup preparations.

“I think if you asked me a few months ago, I would’ve said it’s a little touch-and-go,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe said of team progress to FOX Sports after the match, “but I think things are really starting to shape up.”

Left back Megan Klingenberg’s opening goal looked like the early highlight of the match. Her one-time shot from outside the box in the 14th minute looked much like her spectacular strike against Haiti that became the talk of October’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament.

“All I was thinking is, just keep it on goal because if it’s on goal, it has a chance of going in,” Klingenberg told FOX Sports during halftime.

Not to be out-done, St. Louis native Lori Chalupny, Klingenberg’s second-half substitute, scored her own volley off of a service from Rapinoe in the 76th minute to open the scoring floodgates.

Center back Julie Johnston scored on a rising header from a free kick three minutes later. A couple minutes after that, Morgan Brian subbed in and quickly nabbed her own for the final scoreline.

Saturday’s performance was perhaps the most complete one from the Americans since last year. The USWNT had a rocky finish to 2014 and opened this year with poor showings against France and England overseas, but bounced back to win last month’s Algarve Cup.

Despite a strong win over New Zealand, finishing remained a problem. Three of the night’s four goals came from defenders with none from forwards. The U.S. out-shot New Zealand, 18-to-2, with 11 on goal as attackers failed to finish a rash of chances in the first half.

“I think there’s still a couple things in the final third we’re sorting out, but we got the goals today and we got tons of chances,” Rapinoe said. “We’re getting in there in different ways — we had balls over the top, we played through a little bit and getting crosses. So this is a good win for confidence-wise.”

Amy Rodriguez, who otherwise had a strong match starting up top with Alex Morgan, was twice denied by the woodwork. One was beautiful volley attempt in the 39th with Rapinoe floating a pass from near the center line to Rodriguez’s run in the box.

Christen Press, who played wide in the midfield and did well to combine with her teammates in tight spaces and create chances, had two shots parried away by goalkeeper Erin Nayler.

The crowd was the USWNT’s largest for a home friendly since 1999 and the largest-ever for a non-double-header friendly.

The Americans have three more preparation matches before heading to the World Cup in Canada in June. Up next, they face Ireland on May 10 in San Jose.

See Meghan Klingenberg’s goal below:


  1. I don’t know if it’s fair to say our finishing is a huge problem. Two shots hit the frame and at least two others made the keeper really work to save them. Just unlucky.

    I think from back to front we looked really strong. Lloyd might be a little too trigger happy at times, but I don’t think she made any bad decisions.

  2. Finishing is a big issue. Despite totally dominating NZ for most of the game, we only have one goal to show for it and that was not by a forward. In fact, none of the goals were scored by a forward. Morgan is great in games where there is transition but not so good in a 1/2 field game. A-Rod had a good game but was unlucky. It seems that our only game plan is to lob it in and see what happens and that won’t work against stronger teams

    Abby is on her last legs and seems to be a late game sub at this point… She looked slow and was mostly invisible yesterday.

    • I meant to say, one goal to show for it until the subbing started, NZ was out of gas and the Damn broke. For about 80 minutes it was 1-0

    • I disagree. The problem for this team the last year has been chance creation, not finishing. The finishing will be there. If there’s one strength of this side, it’s world class goal scorers in Morgan, Press, LeRoux, Wambach, and Rodriguez. They’re easily 5 deep in forwards. At least they were building from the back and not just playing long ball so this was a very encouraging performance. Playing a style like this, with the whole team moving together, will give more chances for the midfielders and back line to score goals and that’s interesting, because with Julie Johnston and Klingenberg, et al, the goals can come from seemingly anywhere which could make them a handful for opponents.

  3. The women’s ball skills and ball movement have improved significantly. And movement off the ball was good enough that someone was always available for an outlet pass. Their only problem was the final pass and/or finishing. They created a bushel full of chances and could have easily scored 3 or 4 more


Leave a Comment