New Zealand’s Football Ferns felt the full force of world champions USA in a 5-0 defeat in Cincinnati on Tuesday (local time).
The loss was a tough pill to swallow after a credible and competitive 3-1 loss to FIFA’s top ranked nation in Commerce City four days earlier.
Unlike that first match – the Ferns’ first international in six months – which contained a spirited Football Ferns fightback, New Zealand’s best period in Ohio came early in the match, holding the home nation scoreless for over half an hour in front of a crowd of 30,596.
But with nine minutes left in the first half, Lindsay Horan broke the deadlock with a towering header over goalkeeper Erin Naylor – earning her 50th cap – before Mallory Pugh doubled the advantage just minutes before the interval.
Alex Morgan’s goal just 30 seconds after the restart killed any plans New Zealand had of coming quickly out of the blocks in the second spell and while the Oceania champions toiled wilfully throughout, USA were just as ruthless in defence as they were clinical up front.
Lynn Williams headed in USA’s fourth in the 55th minute and Alex Morgan’s second of the night rounded out the scoring 14 minutes later.
New Zealand coach Tony Readings said it was a tough lesson for a team in a transition phase after losing players to retirement but didn’t detract from the value of two games against the world’s best.
“It was a really difficult game,” Readings said. “You’re playing the world champions in front of 30,000 people and many of our players have never experienced this before.
“When you play these teams you want to make sure you perform really well and hope that maybe they don’t hit their straps but it was the other way around today.
“We were hopeful that we would [perform]. We had limited preparation time for this tour and we were trying to get the learnings from game one. They had brought on five fresh subs before the hour mark and all of this players are truely world class players. It was tough today but across the whole tour there were some real positives on and off the pitch.”
“We came into this tour with the aim of seeing where we were at against the best teams in the world. This team is in a bit of a transition at the moment so we need to find these things out. We found out a lot. There’s a lot of good things but a lot we need to work on, but we knew that coming in.”
USA 5 (Lindsay HORAN 36’. Mallory PUGH 44’, Alex MORGAN 46’, 69’, Lynn WILLIAMS 55’)
New Zealand 0