The U.S. Women’s National Team, led by a Sydney Leroux first-half goal, played New Zealand to a gritty 1-1 draw in front of 15,139 fans at Columbus Crew Stadium.
The match was the second in four days against the Football Ferns with the U.S. earning a 4-1 victory on Oct. 27 in San Francisco, but New Zealand was able to salvage a draw this time with a late tally from forward Hannah Wilkinson.
The U.S. players will now have a few days off before getting back together in Orlando, Fla., in preparation to face Brazil on Nov. 10 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET in a match that will be broadcast live on NBC. Fans can also follow on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.
The U.S. is currently 12-0-3 in 2013 and has a chance to complete the year with double-digit victories and zero losses for just the second time in WNT history. The only other year was in 2006 when the U.S. Women posted an 18-0-4 record.
The U.S. generated a multitude of scoring chances in the first half and Leroux was finally able to capitalize in the 42nd minute. With her back to the goal, Leroux received the ball from Kristie Mewis well outside the box and made a gliding spin to her left, eluding several New Zealand defenders. After several touches, Leroux fired a low strike into the left corner past New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler.
It was Leroux’s eighth goal of the year, tying her for second on the team this year with Christen Press. Mewis notched her second assist in nine appearances in 2013.
It appeared the U.S. was headed toward back-to-back wins against New Zealand, but Wilkinson spoiled those plans in the 87th minute. Wilkinson had been denied a great chance in the 54th minute when Hope Solo made a clutch save, but she managed to squeeze her shot home this time. She received a pass from Rebekah Stott down the right side and then shot to the far left corner past Solo for the equalizer.
The U.S. had the majority of the game’s scoring chances, out-shooting New Zealand 14-6, but put just five shots on goal, The USA’s first big moment came following a handball by New Zealand’s Ria Percival inside the penalty area. Percival tried to intercept Heather O’Reilly’s cross directed toward Leroux, but the ball bounced up and struck her arm. Wambach took the penalty kick in the 10th minute, but Nayler was moving to her right during the run-up and batted the ball away to keep things scoreless.
Wambach had a great look at the goal off of a Mewis cross from the left wing in the 26th minute, but her header hit the crossbar and New Zealand’s defense was able to clear the ball out of danger. Wambach had another header in the 34th minute off of Megan Rapinoe’s corner kick, but once again the world’s leading goal scorer just missed the frame.
New Zealand changed goalkeepers to open the second half, going with 40-year-old veteran and Belleville, Ill., native Jenny Bindon. Bindon also was able to hold Wambach at bay, saving a 53rd-minute header attempt off O’Reilly’s cross from the right side.
- The U.S. is 10-1-1 all-time against New Zealand, but with the draw the USA saw an end to its 10-game winning streak in the series.
- The USA is now 4-1-1 all-time at Crew Stadium.
- The U.S. is riding a 38-game unbeaten streak since its last loss, which came to Japan (1-0) on March 5, 2012, at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. Over those 38 games, the U.S. has scored 126 goals while allowing 28 in 32 wins and six ties.
- The USA is also riding a 76-game home unbeaten streak. Those 76 games have included just 10 ties and 66 wins. The last loss for the USA on home soil came on Nov. 6, 2004, a 3-1 setback to Denmark in Philadelphia. It was one of just two losses the USA has suffered when Abby Wambach scores a goal.
- Heather O’Reilly, usually a midfielder, played up top along with Wambach and Sydney Leroux in a 4-3-3 formation. It marked the first time U.S. WNT head coach Tom Sermanni went with that formation to start a game.
- O’Reilly made her 192nd-career appearance, tying her for ninth on the all-time U.S. WNT list with Brandi Chastain. O’Reilly leads this year’s squad with 12 starts.
- Forward Alex Morgan suited up for the match but did not play because of an ankle injury she suffered during training in the lead-up to the Oct. 27 New Zealand game. She is expected to be fit for selection on Nov. 10 against Brazil.
- Defender and team captain Christie Rampone started and earned her 286th-career cap.
- Rachel Buehler replaced Rampone to start the second half for her 107th appearance.
- Carli Lloyd replaced Yael Averbuch in the 70th minute. Lloyd has now played in 161 career matches. Averbuch has 25-career caps and nine for the year.
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. New Zealand
Date: Oct. 30, 2013
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 62 degrees, cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
NZL 0 1 1
USA – Sydney Leroux (Kristie Mewis) 42nd minute
NZL - Hannah Wilkinson (Rebekah Stott) 87
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.) (16-Rachel Buehler, 46), 8-Kristie Mewis; 7-Yael Averbuch (10-Carli Lloyd, 70), 15-Megan Rapinoe, 12-Lauren Holiday; 9-Heather O’Reilly, 20-Abby Wambach, 2-Sydney Leroux (23-Christen Press, 78)
Substitutions Not Used: 13-Alex Morgan, 18-Nicole Barnhart, 22-Meghan Klingenberg, 26-Leigh Ann Robinson
Head coach: Tom Sermanni
NZL: 21-Erin Nayler (1-Jenny Bindon, 46); 5-Abby Erceg (capt.), 2-Ria Percival, 7-Ali Riley, 15-Rebekah Stott; 11-Kirsty Yallop (13-Rosie White, 79), 4-Katie Hoyle, 16-Annalie Longo (12-Betsy Hassett, 60); 10-Sarah Gregorius (20-Hellen Collins, 67), 9-Amber Hearn, 17-Hannah Wilkinson (18-Megan Lee, 90+2)
Substitutions Not Used: 3-Anna Green, 6-Meikayla Moore, 14-Elizabeth Milne, 19-Stephanie Skilton
Head coach: Tony Readings
Stats Summary: USA / NZL
Shots: 14 / 6
Shots on Goal: 5 / 4
Saves: 3 / 4
Corner Kicks: 8 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 8
Offside: 3 / 2
USA –Ali Krieger (caution) 23th minute
NZL – Ria Percival (caution) 72
Referee: Sabina Charles-Kirton (St. Lucia)
Assistant Referee 1: Antonette Williams (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Wendy Fisher (Cayman Islands)
Fourth Official: William Anderson (Puerto Rico)
Budweiser Woman of the Match: Ali Krieger
- See more at: http://www.ussoccer.com/news/womens-national-team/2013/10/131030-wnt-vs-nzl-match-report.aspx#sthash.x5toG4Ke.dpuf