It’s fair to say that the USWNT didn’t have an ideal opener to the She Believes Cup. The main highlights for the game were Becky Sauerbrunn getting her 200th cap and Trinity Rodman making her national team debut. The team dominated, but in the end couldn’t find a goal as they sat in second behind Iceland in the tournament standings after one match.
Following the 0-0 draw to open the tournament against the Czech Republic, the Stars and Stripes made several changes in order to get back in the goals.
New Zealand set out with just two changes after their 1-0 loss in the She Believes opener to Iceland.
Team news is IN, and we line up against @USWNT with two changes from our first #SheBelievesCup game:— New Zealand Football (@NZ_Football) February 20, 2022
Claudia Bunge comes in for Abby Erceg
Betsy Hassett is in for Daisy Cleverley
5⃣0⃣ Meikayla Moore makes her fiftieth appearance for the Ford Football Ferns
In the end, three first half own goals and number four from second half substitute Ashley Hatch was more than New Zealand could overcome. The USA was dominant in possession and pressed without the ball. The Football Ferns couldn’t manage much with the ball and their defensive organization was clearly lacking as the own goals show. When they had a chance with the ball, the majority of the time possession would breakdown with an errant pass or an attempt at a dribble that went awry.
Gifs of... a whole bunch of own goals
It would not take long for the team to get back in the goals as ?? would take advantage as the team sowed confusion on a fast restart off of an early foul. A cross from Sophia Smith would be deflected off of defender Meikayla Moore defender to give the team an early lead.
A second goal would come just a minute later as the Stars and Stripes won the ball in midfield and quickly moved forward in transition down the right flank. A cross from Sofia Huerta into the box was sent into the goal off of Moore once again for the second goal in as many minutes.
In the 24th minute another good chance would come as Smith was played through on transition and made a blistering run down the left flank. She found space to cross just inside of the 18 yard box, but Catarina Macario’s shot found the post.
If anyone had three own goals on their BINGO sheet, it was a big day for them. This time, Midge Purce cut in from the right and sent her cross in to the zone of uncertainty. Once again, Moore got to the ball but deflected it into her own net.
It wouldn’t be much longer until Moore was taken off for Rebekah Stott at just before the 40th minute. The score would stay at 3-0 with the USA comfortably in the lead as the first 45 came to an end. When the second half began, three subs would come on as Sauerbrunn, Macario, and Smith would make way for Tierna Davidson, Lynn Williams, and Ashley Hatch.
Just five minutes into the half a USWNT player would get on the scoresheet for the first time in the tournament as a cross from Huerta found Hatch to put the score at 4-0.
More subs would come in as Jaelin Howell and Trinity Rodman entered the game for Andi Sullivan and Purce in the 56th minute and about 10 minutes later Mallory Pugh came off for Ashley Sanchez.
Much of the remaining match would be fairly quiet as the USA kept searching for additional goals. There were a few uncomfortable moments as Rodman seemed to be subject to some unkind treatment from New Zealand defenders and needed attention on two occasions.
That final goal did come as a ball played forward was deflected from a New Zealand midfielder into the path of Mal Pugh. The forward pounced on it, carried it forward, and cooly slotted it into the net.
With that, the Stars and Stripes saw out the match and came away with all three points.