The United States once again outclassed the Football Ferns, hammering the Women’s World Cup co-hosts 5-0 to wrap up their two-match tour of New Zealand and familiarize themselves with local conditions ahead of the World Cup in July.
Rose Lavelle wore the captain’s armband and struck twice in another impressive performance, with Ashley Hatch, Mallory Swanson and Taylor Kornieck joining the scoresheet. The dominance of the United States was so strong that New Zealand failed to have a single shot in the game in the entire game compared to 22 shots for the visitors.
Despite playing football at Eden Park for the first time, the trip to New Zealand’s national stadium drew a crowd of 12,721, surpassing the 12,508 who turned up for Wednesday’s game at Sky Stadium in Wellington and set a record for women’s football in the country.
While the United States was able to select a strong team as its domestic league is out of season, New Zealand was denied the same as the friendlies fell outside the FIFA window for international matches.
The gulf in class was evident from the first whistle on Saturday, even as the United States lined up without regular captain Alex Morgan, who withdrew with a leg strain.
Hatch produced a side-footed first-time point from Trinity Rodman’s cross to start the rout on 22 minutes. The United States were denied a penalty kick soon after when first-half substitute Ashleigh Ward tackled Rodman, the daughter of American basketball great Dennis Rodman, on the edge of the box.
Lavelle made up for the missed opportunity a minute later, volleying home a Sofia Huerta cross. Ward was in the thick of things again shortly after the break, mis-controlling a ball into the box which fell to Swanson, who smashed home an easy chance.
Lavelle doubled the lead on 74 minutes, heading Lynn Williams’ cross past busy New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler, before turning provider on 80 minutes, sending in a corner which Kornieck buried at the back post.
The result was another brutal reality check for the Football Ferns, world No 24, ahead of the Women’s World Cup which starts in July.
Unlike co-hosts Australia, New Zealand is not a candidate for the title. They have yet to win a World Cup match in six tournaments and hope to break that duck and perhaps qualify for the knockout rounds.
Not helping the cause, Ferns coach Jitka Klimkova was forced to select a sub-par squad as the tour fell outside FIFA’s official international window. A number of Kiwi players – including starter Paige Satchell – will instead compete for their A-League Women’s club Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the world No 1 Americans are back home with their quest for a third consecutive Women’s World Cup title in 2023 off to a flying start, having cruised to a convincing 4-0 win over the Ferns in the game one on wednesday.
There, cheered on by a raucous, record crowd, the Football Ferns managed to keep the USA scoreless until half time only to succumb to the US authorities as Swanson scored a brace and Morgan and Williams also scored goals.