This has been a year of experimentation for the U.S. women's national team, but a few changes could become permanent. Julie Ertz
, a dominating center back in 2015 and 2016, has started the last
two games in midfield, and her two first-half goals were the difference Friday night as the USA beat New Zealand, 3-1.
Ellis has been experimenting with three in the back and four in the back. With the emergence of Abby
alongside Becky Sauerbrunn
at center back, Ertz did not start her first game of the year until the final game of the Tournament of Nations against Japan in August.
Ertz almost scored in the 11th minute with an overhead volley over the crossbar but did not miss in the 16th and 24th minutes to give the USA a 2-0 lead. Alex Morgan
75th career goal to complete the U.S. scoring off an assists from Sofia Huerta
, who was making her U.S. debut. Next up:
The USA and New Zealand will meet on Tuesday at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, where a crowd of more than 30,000 is expected. Sept. 15 in
Commerce City, Colo. USA 3 New Zealand 1.
Goals: Ertz 16, 24, Morgan 79; Wilkinson 79. USA --
Naeher; Smith (Huerta, 51), Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper, O'Hara (Short,
77); Ertz, Mewis (Long, 60), Horan (Brian, 74); Pugh (Dunn, 60), Morgan, Rapinoe (Press, 60). New Zealand --
Nayler; Percival, Moore, Stott, Riley; White (Phillips, 87), Longo, Yallop
(Chance, 84), Hassett, Bowen; Wilkinson. Att.: