The United States women’s national team (USWNT) play the second of a pair of friendlies against New Zealand on Tuesday night in Cincinnati.
The two teams opened the short series on Friday night, with the USWNT defeating the Football Ferns, 3-1, thanks to a first-half brace by defender-turned-midfielder Julie Ertz. Alex Morgan added the go-ahead goal in the second half, but not before former Tennessee Vol Hannah Wilkinson scored off a header to prevent the U.S. shutout.
So what can fans expect in the second installment?
Well, since the experimentation stage, which lasted just shy of a year, is officially over for the USWNT, there likely won’t be too much change from Friday night, in style of play or lineup. After a standout performance by Ertz as a defensive midfielder Friday night, head coach Jill Ellis would be a fool not to play here there again Tuesday. Not only did Ertz score a double on the night (including the game winner), but her presence in the midfield increased the team’s speed of play and improved its overall performance.
Sofia Huerta, who earned her first cap with the USWNT one day after FIFA approved her change of association from Mexico to the U.S., could likely earn her first start after entering Friday’s match as a second-half sub and assisting Morgan’s goal. Since Kelley O’Hara’s 100th cap milestone is now behind her and both she and Taylor Smith picked up knocks Friday night, it wouldn’t be surprising if Casey Short and Huerta, who Ellis wants to convert to a right back at the international level, got the start at left and right back respectively.
Although Alyssa Naeher has gotten the last six games in goal for the U.S., seemingly well on her way to taking over the starting goalkeeper position that has been in flux since Hope Solo’s exit, she hasn’t had the most impressive year. Part of that could be lack of international experience (Friday night’s match was Naeher’s 19th cap), but she’s also been playing through a mild injury suffered during the Tournament of Nations. That may be grounds for Ellis to give another keeper another game in goal for the U.S. The question is, would it be longtime backup keeper Ashlyn Harris or rookie Jane Campbell?
Cincinnati is also the hometown of rookie midfielder Rose Lavelle, who dazzled fans in her senior USWNT debut during the SheBelieves Cup. Lavelle has been sidelined since June after suffering a hamstring injury during a European friendly against Norway, but she’s been slowly building playing time since returning to her club team, the Boston Breakers. Since Colorado natives Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh got starts in their home state, it wouldn’t be surprising to for Lavelle to see the field in Cincy.
As for New Zealand, there likely won’t be many changes for the Football Ferns either. The Ferns’ three NWSL players—Katie Bowen, Rebekah Stott and Rosie White—will likely all get another start, as will Ali Riley and Hannah Wilkinson. Wilkinson is the New Zealand’s biggest attacking threat, while Riley is always a nuisance on defense whenever facing off against the U.S. Expect Tuesday night to be no different.
The USWNT and New Zealand face off on Tuesday, September 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. The game will be televised on FS1 and streamed live on the Fox Sports Go site and mobile app.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position
Goalkeepers (3): Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride)
Defenders (8): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson (Stanford), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Taylor Smith (NC Courage)
Midfielders (7): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
Forwards (5): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Lynn Williams (NC Courage)
New Zealand Women’s National Team Roster by Position:
Goalkeepers (3): Victoria Esson (North Shore United), Anna Leat (Glenfield Rovers), Erin Nayler (Girondins Bordeaux)
Defenders (7): Elizabeth Anton (Western Springs), CJ Bott (USV Jena), Anna Green (Reading FC), Meikayla Moore (Norwest United), Ria Percival (FC Basel), Ali Riley (FC Rosengard), Rebekah Stott (Seattle Reign)
Midfielders (7): Annalie Longo (Cashmere Technical), Betsy Hassett (KR Reykjavik), Katie Bowen (FC Kansas City), Olivia Chance (Everton Ladies), Daisy Cleverley (UC Berkeley), Malia Steinmetz (Forrest Hill Milford United), Kirsty Yallop (Klepp IL)
Forwards (6): Jane Barnett (Norwest United), Aimee Phillips (Eastern Suburbs), Martine Puketapu (University of Colorado), Katie Rood (Juventus), Rosie White (Boston Breakers), Hannah Wilkinson (Vittsjo GIK)