The U.S. women’s national team continued its march toward the 2015 World Cup in Canada with its latest friendly triumph, a 4-0 thrashing of fellow World Cup qualifiers New Zealand at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Saturday.
All the familiar names — Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe, to name a few — played a part in the USWNT’s fifth victory in sixth games in all competitions, but none of the team’s mega-stars found their name on the scoresheet at the final whistle.
Meghan Klingenberg gave the Americans the lead in the 14th minute with a powerful strike from outside the penalty area. The USWNT’s initial cross into the box was poorly cleared by the New Zealand defense, right into the path of the onrushing Klingenberg, whose right-footed shot swerved through traffic and found the back of the net.
From there, New Zealand threatened the USWNT on occasion, forcing Hope Solo into a couple of big saves, but nothing could prepare the visitors for the five-minute onslaught that was to come in the game’s final 15 minutes.
Lori Chalupny finished a short corner-kick routine with a sweeping, left-footed shot into the upper-90 in the 76th minute. Julie Johnston Julie Johnston flicked a pinpoint header just under the crossbar from Lauren Holiday’s free kick in the 78th minute. Morgan Brian was played behind the Kiwis’ defense by Leroux and she slotted her first-time shot off the inside of the far post and in in the 81st minute.
Just like that, it was lights out for New Zealand and Jill Ellis’s side had much to be happy about as this summer’s tournament kicks off in 64 days, where the USWNT will face the much-heralded “group of death,” comprised of Australia (10th-ranked in the world), Sweden (5th) and Nigeria (33rd).
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′)
Goals: Klingenberg (14′), Chalupny (76′), Johnston (78′), Brian (81′)