A record crowd of 35,817 fans at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, watched the USA beat New Zealand, 4-0, in its final international friendly before Coach Jill Ellis names her squad for the Women's World Cup. It was total domination from beginning to end for the Americans, but they needed three goals in four minutes late in the game to
pull away from the outmatched Football Ferns.
1. USA has scoring weapons at all positions.
The first three goals came from defenders: Meghan Klingenberg, Lori Chalupny, a second-half sub for Klingenberg at left back, and Julie Johnston.
For Johnston, who had the
opening goal against France in the Algarve Cup final, it was the second game in a row she has scored on a header, while Klingenberg, Chalupny and Morgan Brian,
who scored the fourth goal, became the seventh, eighth and ninth different players to score for the USA in seven games in 2015.
The diminutive Klingenberg's opening goal on a volley from
distance was reminiscent of the goal she scored against Haiti: also a right-footed blast on the volley from distance.
the scoring threats out of the back could be critical at the Women's World Cup.
"They're going to come into play," she said. "I know they will. We talk a lot about scoring in transition,
scoring off set pieces, scoring in the run of play, and I think those set piece goals were a good takeaway. Our defenders are very good in the air, so on a set piece, that should be one of their
strengths and service comes into play."
2. U.S. finishing from its big guns must improve.
Frankly, the USA needed the scoring out of
the back because the frontline had an off day. The USA had an 18-2 edge in shots, but had only one goal to show for its efforts until the last quarter of an hour.
Amy Rodriguez twice hit the woodwork, while Christen Press skied an open shot over the goal early in the game and had two shots stopped by New
Zealand keeper Erin Nayler.
Conspicuously silent was Alex Morgan, who struggled in the first half and
missed a couple of opportunities after the break.
3. Rapinoe and Rodriguez settle into lineup.
Yes, the finishing was poor against a
team that will struggle to make it out of group play in Canada, but on the positive side, the USA was creating chances and looked comfortable in attack for the first time this year.
was likely due to the availability of Ellis' first-choice front six for the first time this season. Megan Rapinoe, who had been injured earlier in the year,
started at left wing opposite Press and teamed up with Klingenberg to create all kinds of chances down the left wing.
Like in the Algarve Cup final, Rodriguez was Ellis' choice, ahead of
Sydney Leroux and Abby Wambach, to start alongside Morgan, and her movement in and around the penalty area is a perfect
complement to the lurking Morgan.
TRIVIA. Since losing to France, 2-0, to open the 2015 campaign, the USA has now gone 5-0-1 and conceded just one
goal in the six games.
April 4 in St. Louis USA 4 New Zealand 0. Klingenberg 14, Chalupny 76, Johnston
78, Brian 81. USA -- Solo; Krieger (O'Hara, 83), Sauerbrunn, Johnston, Klingenberg (Chalupny, 57); Press (Heath, 56), Holiday, Lloyd, Rapinoe (Brian, 79);
Rodriguez (Leroux, 57), Morgan (Wambach, 73). New Zealand -- Nayler; Erceg, Stott, Duncan, Percival; Riley, Longo, Bowen (Yallop, 85); Hearn, Gregorius
(Pereira, 65), Wilkinson (White, 74). Att.: 35,817.