The USWNT got off to about as poor a start as possible in their Olympic opener in a 3-0 dismantling by Sweden. The loss – which was just the USA’s second defeat in regulation ever at an Olympics – ended the USWNT’s 44-game unbeaten streak, which was the second longest in program history. The Americans will look to get back on track in their second match against New Zealand.
New Zealand also lost their first game to Australia 2-1. Before that match, the Ferns hadn’t played in 16 months due to COVID-19 restrictions leaving them unable to travel or bring their overseas players back home to train. Despite the lack of play, New Zealand was able to remain competitive.
Predicted Starting Lineups:
It will be interesting to see if the U.S. stick to the starters that they used in the Sweden game and run it back, or if head coach Vlatko Andonovski will elect to mix it up. The main player to keep an eye on will be midfielder Julie Ertz. Andonovski chose to start Lindsey Horan in the six spot in the game against Sweden, and it proved to huge area of weakness that the Swedes exposed. Ertz came on in the second half and made a significance difference, but it was her first match played since sustaining a MCL injury in mid-May, so her fitness level remains a concern.
USWNT projected starters (4-3-3, left to right): Alyssa Naeher — Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O’Hara — Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle — Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Christen Press
The Ferns are led by head coach Tom Sermanni, who is now in his fourth year with New Zealand after being hired in October of 2018. Sermanni has familiarity with U.S. soccer systems after coaching the USWNT from January 2014 to April 2014 before being dismissed. Sermanni also coached in the National Women’s Soccer League as head coach of the Orlando Pride from 2016-18.
New Zealand projected starters (4-4-2, left to right): Erin Nayler– Anna Green, Ali Riley, Abby Erceg, Meikayla Moore– Ria Percival, Annalie Longo, Betsy Hassett, Katie Bowen– Hannah Wilkinson, Olivia Chance
The USWNT will be ANGRY after the embarrassing performance they put up against Sweden. I’d expect the U.S. to come out swinging, and look to attack early and often. Unfortunately, for New Zealand, I think this one will get ugly. U.S. 4 New Zealand 0.
Date: Saturday, July 24th
Time: 7:30 a.m. ET
Location: Saitama Stadium
The match will be broadcast in the United States on NBCSN and Telemundo, with streaming coverage also provided at NBCOlympics.com and through the Telemundo Deportes App. The match will also be replayed later that day on the USA Network at 5:30 p.m. ET and will be available for viewing on NBCOlympics.com.