The New Zealand women’s national team, the Football Ferns, will play two international friendlies against World No. 1 the USA in September.
The Tony Readings coached team, who are looking to build for the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will play the three-time FIFA World Cup Champions on 15 September in Denver, followed by a second game on 19 September in Cincinnati.
The Ferns, who were last in action in the Cyprus Cup in March, most recently played the USA in the opening game of Rio Olympics last year where they went down 2-0 in Belo Horizonte, after goals from Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan.
Readings said the two international friendlies would provide a great test for his World No. 20 side.
“It is going to be nice to have the team back together,” said Readings. “There are no better games that are inspiring to work towards than playing against one of the best teams in the world away from home. I am sure the players are looking forward to it and will be training hard to be selected for this squad.”
Readings said the USA, who are also four-time Olympic champions, are always a massive challenge in any setting but even more so when you play them on their home soil.
“They are a team that has a lot of depth and they are looking to bring some new players and develop a different style of play. They have so much depth and it will be a good test for this group to see where we are at. It will be useful for our younger players to see the standard required to compete at the FIFA World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.”
This will mark the first visit to Cincinnati for the USA women since 2008 and its first match at Nippert Stadium, home to FC Cincinnati of the United Soccer League.
USA head coach Jill Ellis said they are looking forward to taking on a quality opponent.
“The fall friendly matches are an important transition period to 2018 and we want to get the most out of them by continuing to play teams with World Cup and Olympic experience like New Zealand,” Ellis said.
“Denver has been a fun place to play for our team over the years, but we also enjoy going to cities where we haven’t been in a while, like Cincinnati. The fans there have shown extraordinary support for their USL team and we’re looking forward to an enthusiastic crowd for our match as well.”
The USA and New Zealand have met 14 times in history, with the World No. 1 having won 12, drawn once and lost once to the Ferns.
These international friendlies will be the first meetings with New Zealand on American soil since a 4-0 win in St. Louis on April 4, 2015 in the lead up to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The tour will mark 30 years since New Zealand’s only victory over the USA which came in the first match between the teams back in 1987, a 1-0 victory for the Football Ferns.
The USA and New Zealand have played once before in Cincinnati, a 6-0 USA win in 2004 on the post-Olympic tour after the USA won the gold medal in Athens, Greece.
Readings will name his Football Ferns squad for the USA Tour on 26 August.
Football Ferns vs. USA
15 September, kick off at 8pm (local time)
Dick’s Sports Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado
19 September, kick off 7:30 pm (local time)
Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football