The United States Women’s National Team continued its march toward the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup with a comfortable 5-0 win over New Zealand at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in front of 35,761 fans — the third largest crowd in the U.S. for a standalone women’s soccer game.
The United States improved to 15-1-1 in the all-time series between the two teams and 6-1-2 in the 2019 calendar year. It was the second consecutive 5-0 scoreline against the Football Ferns for the U.S. after doing the same in Cincinnati back in 2017.
Jill Ellis trotted out her usual starting lineup, including Orlando Pride striker Alex Morgan at center forward.
Despite not having a ton of possession early, New Zealand was the better side in the opening 10 minutes, simply playing harder than the United States. The USWNT had a lot of the ball but continuously broke down in the attack with poorly weighted or off-line passes. Meanwhile, the first good scoring chance of the game went to New Zealand’s Rosie White, who fired over the bar from just above the six-yard box after Becky Sauerbrunn failed to deal with an aerial cross, although it appeared she may have slipped on the baseball field’s surface before jumping.
The USWNT started to hold onto the ball better around the 15-minute mark and that eventually led to getting some scoring chances.
Morgan had half a chance in the 21st minute on a bouncing ball from Kelley O’Hara but she couldn’t keep her shot down and it sailed well over the bar. Six minutes later, Morgan cleverly flicked a Crystal Dunn cross on target but Erin Nayler made a fantastic reaction save to deny the Pride striker and keep the game scoreless.
Lavelle got a head on a Megan Rapinoe cross in the 29th minute but she didn’t make great contact and it was an easy save for Nayler.
The U.S. broke through in the 35th minute after Morgan settled a long ball and dished out to Rapinoe on the left. Rapinoe took a quick step to clear herself and fizzed a cross into the box for Heath to run onto and tap home to make it 1-0.
The United States doubled the lead in the 40th minute on a similar play. Dunn sent Horan down the left channel and her back-post cross was sent home on an excellent finish by Lavelle to make it 2-0.
Julie Ertz had a shot blocked off a corner kick in the 44th and Dunn followed up by sailing a shot well over the bar seconds later when the ball was recycled in as the U.S. continued to grind down New Zealand in the St. Louis heat. Morgan dragged a left-footed effort just wide in first-half stoppage time and seconds later nearly got a gift when Ali Riley misplayed a ball in her own area that nearly fell for the Pride forward but was collected by Nayler.
The U.S. took its 2-0 lead into the break and Mewis came on for Horan.
After the intermission, the USWNT continued doing USWNT things, probing for more goals. Heath used Morgan’s run at the back post to try to sneak a driven ball past Nayler at the near post but the New Zealand goalkeeper reacted in time to keep it out. In the 52nd minute, Rapinoe sent a rocket just wide of the near post. Four minutes later, Rapinoe and Dunn got crossed up but the ball ricocheted to Morgan, who had her shot deflected over the net by Nayler.
There was a special moment at the 60-minute mark as Pride defender Ali Krieger came on for O’Hara to earn her 100th career cap for the United States. Lloyd also came on for Rapinoe at the time. Krieger received big hugs from both Rapinoe and O’Hara before coming on.
A minute later the lead grew to 3-0. Mewis broke through the midfield and found Heath out on the right. With room to either pass or shoot, Heath set up Lloyd for a tap-in goal on her first touch of the match.
Seconds later, Lloyd got a head to a Dunn cross but couldn’t keep it on frame. In the 76th, Pug nearly scored accidentally as a cross into the box was missed by the outstretched hand of Nayler and hit her in the head, but it flew over the bar.
Lloyd scored her 110th goal in the 83rd minute by beating the defense to a cross in from Christen Press and putting it in the net to make it 4-0. It was Lloyd’s fifth goal in the last three games as the captain certainly looks to be in top form entering the World Cup.
CARLI— The American Outlaws (@AmericanOutlaws) May 17, 2019
Mewis made it 5-0 just a minute later. She blasted a shot from about 24 yards out that deflected off a defender and slipped inside the near post, leaving Nayler no chance to stop it. For Mewis, it made three goals in two games.
Press tried to chip Nayler on the right off a cheeky back-heel pass from Lavelle in the 89th minute and Mewis then fired over the bar seconds later. Pugh then set up Lloyd for a potential hat trick in stoppage time but the defense blocked the shot at the last second as the Ferns were completely gassed and just waiting for the final whistle.
Mercifully for New Zealand, the whistle finally came with no further goals scored and the USWNT walked off with its 5-0 win.
The United States will have one more match in the Send-Off Series before heading off to the World Cup, facing Mexico on Sunday, May 26 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. Coverage of that match will start at 11:30 a.m. ET.