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USWNT hammers New Zealand to kick-start Olympics

Joe Prince-Wright and Andy Edwards look forward to the USWNT's Olympic ambitions and what we can expect from the reigning world champions in Tokyo.

The USWNT beat New Zealand 6-1 in Saitama as they recovered well from their opening game defeat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

[ MORE: Women’s Olympics hub ]

Rose Lavelle got the U.S. off to a flying start with an early goal, while Lindsey Horan headed home a second right at the end of the first half after the USWNT strangely had four goal disallowed for offside in the opening 45 minutes.

In the second half they forced an own goal then Christen Press and Alex Morgan each grabbed a goal off the bench and there was another own goal, as Betsy Hassett had briefly reduced the score to 3-1.

With the win the USWNT have three points from their opening two games and have the goal difference advantage over Australia, who they play in their final Group G game on Tuesday.

That’s the big one as the USWNT aim to give themselves the easiest possible game in the quarterfinals by beating Australia in their final group game. Job done for Vlatko Andonovski’s side as they rebounded from their heavy defeat to Sweden well.

3 things we learned

1. Ertz key to USWNT machine: She had two assists, plugged all of the gaps in midfield and put the USA on the front-foot time and time again. Ertz has recovered fully from her recent injury and she is so key in allowing the USA’s attack to flourish. The solid platform she provides allows the likes of Rapinoe, Lloyd and Co. to stay high up the pitch where they are most dangerous and Ertz does the dirty work in the engine room so well. What a performance. She was everywhere.

2. Some defensive issues remain: Through Vlatko Andonovski’s first 23 games in charge the USWNT conceded four goals. They have conceded four in their first two games at this Olympics and that will irk him and the USWNT defenders. Abby Dahlkemper’s horrible error led to New Zealand’s goal here and they will be tested a lot more against Australia next up, and then in the quarterfinals (hopefully) and beyond. Defensively there were some concerning moments as New Zealand create two other good chances aside from scoring. The competition from here on out will be a step up and will make the most of the chances the USWNT keep coughing up. They have to cut out the sloppy mistakes.

3. Amid squad rotation, veterans set the tone: This was always the plan, to rotate players in and out, and it was the veterans who stood tall against New Zealand. Lloyd, Rapinoe and Ertz all played a key role and even though the opposition wasn’t great, they set the tone for the display. Lloyd charged around, Rapinoe was lively and Ertz won everything in midfield. Even if they don’t play every minute in Tokyo, the veteran core showed the levels that are expected.

Player of the match: Julie Ertz - Two assists and dominated midfield. What a display, and she is so important to the USWNT.

The USWNT got off to a flying start as Rose Lavelle curled home a beauty to give them an early lead and settle any nerves after the defeat to Sweden.

What. A. Finish.

Lavelle then slammed a shot into the side-netting after a flowing USWNT move, then Crystal Dunn was offside as she crossed for Tobin Heath to finish as the U.S. thought they had doubled their lead.

Megan Rapinoe also had a goal chalked off for offside and Lindsey Horan then had a goal chalked off for offside too, as the USWNT had four goals in total chalked off for being offside in the first half.

Essentially everyone was offside for a large chunk of the first half...

Hannah Wilkinson then headed inches wide for New Zealand after catching out Abby Dahlkemper as they were so close to scoring an equalizer, but right on half time the USWNT doubled their lead.

Julie Ertz did superbly to head a corner back into the danger zone and Lindsey Horan nodded home to make it 2-0.

In the second half the USWNT kept the ball well and New Zealand tried to force the issue, but spent most of their time defending.

Carli Lloyd slammed a shot wide and then headed a cross from Horan towards goal as Abby Erceg was forced into heading the ball into her own net to put the USWNT 3-0 up.

That allowed the USA to make plenty of subs late on as Sam Mewis and Christen Press came on for Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle, and Alex Morgan replaced Carli Lloyd, with Catarina Macario coming on for Lindsey Horan and Casey Krueger replacing Crystal Dunn.

However, the USWNT did concede a sloppy goal as Abby Dahlkemper shanked a clearance and then fell over as she tried to recover, as Betsy Hassett finished emphatically to make it 3-1.

At the other end the excellent Ertz crossed superbly as Press controlled and finished, while Press then set up Morgan to score and there was an other own goal from CJ Bott, as the USWNT eased to a 6-1 victory.

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